Canada's Harper, Australia's Abbott Forge 'Climate Deniers Club'

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Common Dreams

Canada's Harper, Australia's Abbott Forge 'Climate Deniers Club'

Two prime ministers heap praise on each other for anti-climate change leadership

A scene from a protest in Ottawa in 2011. (Photo: Peter Blanchard/cc/flickr)

The prime ministers of Australia and Canada joined their conservative voices in Ottawa on Monday to stress the need for economic growth over policies that address the climate crisis.

"I’m happy to call you an exemplar of center-right leadership," Australia's Tony Abbott said of Canada's Stephen Harper. "Much for us to learn, much for me to learn from the work you’ve done," he said.

Abbott and Harper downplayed the threats of climate change, and said that they would not take any measures to address it that would "hurt the economy."

Abbott said climate change is "not the only or even the most important problem that the world faces."

"It's not that we don't seek to deal with climate change," said Harper. "But we seek to deal with it in a way that will protect and enhance our ability to create jobs and growth, not destroy jobs and growth in our countries."

The two also voiced their shared criticism of a carbon tax. Abbott said he and Harper were "like-minded" in their opposition to such a tax, while Harper praised Abbott's "encourag[ing] our counterparts in the major economies and beyond to boost economic growth, to lower taxes when possible and to eliminate harmful ones, most notably the job-killing carbon tax."

Abbott said that any action to address climate change should not "clobber the economy."

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne shot back on Tuesday, saying, "Climate change is clobbering the economy and it's time that some common sense clobbered Tony Abbott."

Of Abbott's alliance with Harper, she said, "Our prime minister is seeking to put together a climate deniers' club."

Jamie Henn of 350.org has made similar comments about the pair, saying Harper was joining Abbott in "a race to the bottom," and calling the Harper administration "just another member of the carbon cartel."

The two administrations have been widely criticized for their environmental policies, including Harper's "broad assault on the environment" including support for tar sands development, and Abbott's efforts to repeal the country's carbon tax and axing of the nation's climate watchdog.

Abbott now heads to the U.S. and is scheduled to meet with President Obama on Thursday.

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