BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) – Australia was under pressure Thursday to follow the United States and China and ramp up efforts to combat climate change, as it prepared to host world leaders at the G20 summit.
The surprise deal between the world’s two biggest polluters to curb greenhouse gas emissions was announced in Beijing on Wednesday, in a move hailed as a potential breakthrough in the long fight for a global pact.
In making the announcement, US President Barack Obama described climate change as an urgent global challenge.
“In addition, by making this announcement today, together, we hope to encourage all major economies to be ambitious – all countries, developing and developed – to work across some of the old divides so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement next year,” he said.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott welcomed the deal but said his preoccupation in hosting the G20 in Brisbane at the weekend was on the economy, and creating growth and jobs.
“We’ve just had the Apec conference in Beijing and climate change was hardly mentioned,” Abbott told reporters in Myanmar for the East Asia Summit.
“It was mentioned in passing by one leader in Beijing and look, there are lots of venues to deal with climate change.”
Abbott said Australia’s emissions amounted to about one per cent of the globe’s, whereas the US accounted for about 15 per cent and China 24 per cent.
“As for Australia, I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time, I’m focusing on what we’re doing now and we’re not talking, we’re acting,” he said, in reference to China’s aim for its emissions to peak by around 2030 and for 20 per cent of its energy to come from renewables by then.