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G20 Summit Highlights Australia’s Environmental Isolation

This past weekend’s G20 summit held in Brisbane, Australia, was the ‘talk of the town’ here in Australia. G20The largest peacetime police operation in Australia, and headlined by 19 of the world’s most prominent world leaders.

And Tony Abbott.

As an Australian myself, I have no trouble wondering out-loud how on Earth we managed to secure the hosting duties for this, the ninth meeting of the G20 heads of government (let alone membership in the G20 itself). While we may rank as one of the 20 major economies, our recent national politics has surely made us the laughing-stock around the world.

Our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, had made it very clear that he did not want to talk about environmental and energy issues at his G20 summit — which in and of itself shows just how infantile his current policies are. And to make matters worse, pressure from other G20 leaders found climate change to be placed on the agenda anyway.

An article published by BusinessGreen highlighted five “sources of encouragement for green businesses from the G20 Summit,” of which #3 read: “Tony Abbott has never looked more isolated.” Just to be clear, Tony Abbott’s political isolation is a good thing.

“Tony Abbott reportedly kicked off the discussions on energy and climate change by declaring he was ‘standing up for coal’,” wrote James Murray on BusinessGreen. “By the end of a negotiating process that was likened by one official to ‘trench warfare’ the final text contained not one mention of coal.”

As Murray added, Tony Abbott has walked out of this G20 summit “looking even more isolated” — which is a good thing, especially if you’re a voting Australian who cares about energy or the environment.

A Newspoll published in The Australian on Tuesday shows that the Federal Opposition/Labor’s two-party polling is at a four-month high of 55%, while Tony Abbott’s Coalition is down to 45%. Furthermore, Tony Abbott’s own numbers are dropping, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten climbing to 43% of voters preferring him as prime minister, while actual Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s numbers fell to 37%.

In the lead-up to the summit, the Australian Climate Council wrote that Australia is “losing ground as the climate policy race gains pace globally.”

“Once a leader on climate action, Australia is now lagging behind its major allies and trading partners,” the Climate Council wrote, highlighting recent uncertainty over the country’s Renewable Energy Target as the reason renewable energy investment has dropped 70% in 2014 over 2013’s figures.

But Australian’s aren’t the only ones targeting Mr. Abbott’s climate policies. Writing for the LA Times, Robyn Dixon dismissed Australia as “the adolescent country. The bit player. The shrimp of the schoolyard.” While such comments show a remarkable lack of understanding of Australia’s role in the Southern Hemisphere, and in the Asia Pacific region specifically, her point is well made when you consider our current representative. In the past, Australia has had powerful figures at the top of the food chain — Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd. Not so much today.

Dixon continues, however, commenting on Tony Abbott’s opening address:

And then he throws in a boast that his government repealed the country’s carbon tax, standing out among Western nations as the one willing to reverse progress on global warming — just days after the United States and China reached a landmark climate change deal.

In the end, Australia is making a fool of herself, due to the politics and juvenile leadership of a few lucky politicians. Let’s not kid ourselves — Australia must return to being a leading country in the fight against climate change and for sensible environmental and energy policy. Until then (read: until the current administration is kicked out of office), the country will be looked down upon by any nation who cares to try.

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Written By

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.


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