Australian PM Tony Abbott
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses members of the media after a party room meeting at Parliament House in Canberra February 9, 2015. Reuters/Sean Davey

A best-selling Canadian author and social activist calls the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott a “villain” of climate change, who matches the level of inactions on climate change in Canada. Abbott is only repeating the slogans used by the coal industry in the US, the activist claims.

Australia is currently a “hotbed of climate denial” though its closest neighbours in the Pacific region are facing an existential threat of climate change, according to Naomi Klein. The latest book of Klein, titled “This Changes Everything,” mentions Abbott’s promotion of coalmines and his attempt to keep climate off 2014’s G20 agenda “crossed a line where it’s impossible to come back from.”

The book primarily argues that governments have fundamentally failed to deal with the issue of climate change. Klein said the actions of the Abbott government are just the same of what she has already heard from the American conservative and libertarian public policy think tank, Heartland Institute, which said “coal is good for humanity.”

Climate change is also an accelerant to issues such as racism and inequality, which in Australia, treating migrants is a profound moral crisis, Klein said. With the climate change, the country would become “meaner” as it gets hotter, she added.

In the past week, the federal government unveiled the new climate target of 26 to 28 percent emissions reduction by 2030, based on 2005 levels, which Abbott said was “environmentally and economically responsible.” In addition, Abbott previously called the science of climate change as “crap,” and now insists human activity is influencing the climate.

But several scientists said the new targeted emissions reduction are not consistent to avoid the internationally agreed goal of avoiding 2°C of global warming from pre-industrial times. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO, and the Bureau of Meteorology claimed climate change will hit Australia harder than many other countries in the future, with an estimated temperature increase of up to 5.1°C by the end of the century if the emissions from fossil fuels aren’t reduced.

Denial of climate science not only prevails in Australia under the Abbott government, Klein said. In other English-speaking countries such as the US, the UK and Canada, it is common because of the “colonial settler mentality.”

“Countries founded on a powerful frontier mentality have this idea of limitless nature than can be endlessly extracted,” she said. The country with strongest frontier narrative is where denialism is strongest.

But Klein suggests climate change is still threatening in each country as each has limits, and leaders should respect those limits. Klein, who is heading to Australia for a series of public events between August and September, hopes that in the coming Canadian elections in October, there will be a different government that will make Australia as an isolated “climate villain.”

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