John Menadue. Our Environment Minister is not going to Lima

Almost all countries will have their climate change or environment ministers at the UN Climate Change Conference which commences this week in Lima, Peru. This conference is in preparation for the crucial conference on climate change in Paris next year.

But our Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, will not be there. Tony Abbott is sending his Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, but is also sending Andrew Robb, our Trade Minister to keep an eye on her. It is reported that Julie Bishop went ‘bananas’ over this insult to her.

News reports suggest that Tony Abbott had no intention of sending  a minister to Lima. Julie Bishop asked for approval to go and was refused. When she asked a second time approval was given but only on the condition that Andrew Robb went with her. How very odd!

But clearly Tony Abbott has major doubts about the reliability of Greg Hunt on climate change. As Michelle Grattan put it The Conversation on 3 December 2014, ‘In 2008 when the Coalition was committed to an emissions trading scheme, Shadow Treasurer Turnbull, Hunt, the environment spokesman and Bishop, the deputy Liberal leader, oppose Nelson’s desire to link an ETS to when the big emitters took action rather than to a specific date. In 2009 when Turnbull was leader, climate spokesman Robb … spectacularly repudiated Turnbull’s proposed compromise with the Rudd Government to get Labor’s ETS through parliament. Robb’s dramatic intervention, made during a long party room meeting on the highly contested issue, was a devastating blow to Turnbull’s leadership, which was under pressure over this stand on the ETS and his non-consultative style. Robb has documented the story in his book” Black Dog Days”. Turnbull quickly lost his job and Abbott became leader.’

We have seen a consistent pattern by the Coalition in opposition and now in government to dismantle and defund almost attempts that have been made to address the threat which climate change presents to our planet.

Even this week the NSW and ACT governments combined with researchers at the University of NSW’ Climate Change Research Centre, which predicted increasing hot days, longer dry spells, increased fire danger and fewer wet days.

The science is trending overwhelmingly in one direction; that action on climate change is essential. But still the Abbott Government obfuscates and dissembles, even refusing to send the Environment Minister to the critical meeting in Lima.

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