Tony Abbott Calls For Australia To Pull Out Of Paris Climate Deal
The Nationals are demanding the construction of “a minimum of three” baseload power stations as the price of their support for Malcolm Turnbull’s national energy guarantee, as Tony Abbott last night called on the government to abandon the Paris climate agreement.
Delivering a lecture to the Australian Environment Foundation — a climate sceptic think tank — in Melbourne last night, the former prime minister argued that abandoning the Paris targets would help “save” the Liberal Party and protect its legacy over the next 10 years.
He defended his criticism of the energy guarantee as well as his push to build new coal-fired power stations by advocating for a profound overhaul of climate policy that would see Australia follow the lead set by Donald Trump.
“Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement that is driving the national energy guarantee would be the best way to keep prices down and employment up, and to save our party from a political legacy that could haunt us for the next decade at least,” Mr Abbott said.
The comments add to pressure over the national energy guarantee as the Nationals push their own separate agenda.
A two-page list of demands aimed at combating the threat of sovereign risk for potential investors in new baseload power generators, including coal-fired stations, is being promoted by the Nationals as a “genuine and serious policy position” to supplement the Prime Minister’s signature energy policy.
The confidential working document — obtained by The Australian — sets out the position of the minor Coalition party and advocates for the creation of a $5 billion fund to “ensure (a) reliable energy mix is delivered to Australian electricity users in the short, medium and long term”.
Only coal, gas or traditional hydro projects capable of delivering electricity “24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of weather conditions” would be eligible for assistance under the proposal.
Operating under a “government-owned company model”, the suggested fund would keep any new power stations off budget, like the approach taken with the western Sydney airport and inland rail projects.
Recasting the already divisive energy debate as a struggle for the soul of the Liberal Party, Mr Abbott said that it took “character to do what’s right” as well as “courage to disagree with your peers”.
“Far from ‘wrecking the government’, MPs worried about energy policy are trying to save it with a policy that would be different from Labor’s,” he said.
Mr Abbott also canvassed unwinding Australia’s emissions targets or abandoning them to “whatever would actually be achieved in 2030 through normal business cost-cutting and efficiencies, plus whatever is delivered through the emissions reduction fund”.