Malcolm Turnbull rejects fossil fuel agreement

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French President Francois Hollande (L) welcomes Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as he arrives for the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. Reuters

Australia has rejected an agreement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies at the Paris climate conference. The statement was announced at the first day of the conference with 40 countries signing a communiqué to eliminate government funding for the use of coal, oil and gas.

Government officials were concerned that the pledge could cost Australians $26 billion over the next four years. The rebates are claimed by farmers and miners for compensation of tax paid on fuel used in off-road vehicles.

"Some of the most vulnerable nations are our Pacific neighbours and we are helping them to build resilience through practical action and assistance," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. "The impacts of global warming are already being felt and will continue to be so even after we reach global net zero emissions."

"It just goes to show what a successful political unit the National Party is and I want all your listeners to know that,” said Nationals Deputy Leader Barnaby Joyce, ABC News Australia reports. "It's a win for common sense and the National Party."

Australia has already supported climate change pledges before. In 2014, the country signed $200 million for the Green Climate Fund in Peru. Turnbull also announced that Australia will commit an extra $800 million over five years to aid poorer countries cope with climate change, instead of signing the communiqué.

The Australian prime minister was among the 150 world leaders to state their vision on how to combat climate change on the first day of the summit. The fossil-fuel subsidy reform communiqué urges countries to phase out subsidies to control emissions and limit global warming to two degrees Celsius.

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