Abbott's climate attacks 'illogical'

24 Jul, 2015 02:00 AM
Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Andrew Meares
One of the most direct attacks yet on the Coalition government's carbon policies from the right
Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Andrew Meares

A PROMINENT British Tory MP has launched a stinging attack on Prime Minister Tony Abbott's climate change policies, calling them "incomprehensible", "illogical" and a distortion of "what it means to be a Conservative".

Richard Benyon, a former environment minister under British leader David Cameron, says Mr Abbott's decision to become the first world leader to abolish a carbon price is "mystifying" and his attack on renewable energy targets "bewildering", especially for a "supposedly pro-business government".

In an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Benyon argues that "those who, like Mr Abbott, persist in regarding climate change as a left-wing conspiracy based on speculative science are in a rapidly dwindling minority".

He says "true Conservative values include distaste for over-regulation and enthusiasm for entrepreneurialism. But they also include a respect for sound science and economics, a belief in protecting the natural world and a responsibility to do the best for the biggest possible number of one's citizens".

He adds that "Mr Abbott's dismissal of climate science and his belief that Australia must choose between economic growth and tackling climate change speak to a distorted vision of what it means to be a Conservative".

It is one of the most direct attacks yet on the Coalition government's carbon policies from the right of the political spectrum, and reflects mounting frustration with Canberra in a number of Western capitals.

Speaking from London, Mr Benyon told Fairfax Media he did not wish to be seen as "some Pom meddling in Australian affairs".

"This is more about a global issue where many of us want to see sensible politicians on the centre-right recognising that climate change is a clear and present danger to our world," he said.

"Mr Abbott is a forceful leader and, as a fellow centre-right pollie, I want him to be up there, speaking for common sense in this vital debate."

Conservatives should not be ceding the "high moral ground" to left-of-centre parties, he said. "Conservatives traditionally really understand economics and business is [already] way ahead of politics on this."

Mr Benyon, a former member of the British armed forces, said Australia's decision to hang back to see what others did first was "like a group of soldiers lining up to attack a position and one of them saying, 'Well, I'm going to sit this one out – you chaps carry on and good luck.' "

Mr Benyon is one of Britain's wealthiest MPs and resides at Englefield House, an Elizabethan-era estate.

He lost the environment portfolio in a reshuffle in late 2013 but remains active in the Conservative Environment Network and is a director of the Energy and Climate Change Intelligence Unit.

Waiting for targets

Pressure is mounting on Canberra to reveal its post-2020 carbon reduction targets in the lead-up to a global summit on climate change in Paris at the end of the year. Australia will not reveal its target until August – the last developed nation to do so.

But Mr Benyon said "all of us want Australia to be leading at that event, providing the sound common sense that it has done down the ages".

Last year, Mr Abbott dismayed UN officials when he declared that climate change was "not the only or even the most important problem that the world faces", a position in stark contrast to that of UN climate change spokesman Dan Thomas, who called it the " defining issue of our time".

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Chick Olsson
24/07/2015 6:21:00 AM

He is not that prominent. He is just another pollie with a social agenda wishing to interfere in my life.
24/07/2015 6:48:34 AM

Everything about this man is illogical, I have never met any one who admits to liking anything he has done since becoming Australias accidental Prime Minister. Trade agreements that severely disadvantage us and a headlong rush to sign the TPP which will screw us over big time. The sooner he fades into oblivion the better for the country.
practical farmer
24/07/2015 6:49:44 AM

The argument is not about whether the climate is changing, it is about what do we do about it. There are those who believe that a crippling tax and the destruction of our economy (and the chance of relief for the 3rd world) is going to significantly change the planet's climate, and then there are those who understand that the temperature will continue to rise, deal with that prospect, and that problems like world poverty, hunger etc., deserve more of our attention.
24/07/2015 6:59:37 AM

when these so called experts can predict the weather forecast accurately one week in advance then they might have some credibility on climate change until that day arrives then I may believe that the climate is changing all I can see out of this is its another way of getting money from the workers ie more tax
24/07/2015 7:38:57 AM

And what is Mr Benyon's claim to fame? Climate change is a fact of life and has been since the world developed an atmosphere. We know that the world has been warmer than it is today, long before the burning of fossil fuels, but our modern climate scientists are so busy playing computer games with the data they massage, they cannot see the forrest for the trees.
24/07/2015 8:18:06 AM

Dogsbody. That's what happens when you live in the independent thought intolerant, echo chamber of the left.
24/07/2015 8:23:49 AM

Each day we deal with WEATHER variables far in excess of what our CLIMATE variables are expected to be in 50 years time. I reckon we will cope- so long as the climate change cult doesn't bankrupt our country in the meantime.
angry australian
24/07/2015 8:47:02 AM

Makka, may be too late for that. How much of the compulsory levies paid by Australian farmers over say the last 10-15 years went to fund climate change "solutions"? How much will ever be useful? A bit like city centric politicians being conned into spending squillions on desal plants with an annual interest bill of $billions.Most of them appear to be expensive rust factories.
24/07/2015 8:54:54 AM

Climate Change has become the new religion with even a couple of major churches jumping on board. But then sadly Jesus is losing popularity to "science". Can someone tell me why Australia has to pay money to some third party overseas to dissipate the small amount of carbon we emit???? We should be in the box seat to be the country which is being paid to sequester much carbon. Surely the carbon emitted by China from our coal is not "charged" to our "carbon account".
24/07/2015 9:54:35 AM

Qlander, my friends tell me i'm slightly to the right of Attila the Hun but I really can see a bad politician with bad policies when it's right in front of me.
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