Malcolm Turnbull has been challenged on his stance on climate change and the future of government policy concerning emission reductions, just hours after becoming Australia’s 29th Prime Minister. During his first Question Time as Prime Minister, Turnbull was pressured to address the contentious topics of climate change and same sex marriage.
As a well known advocate for action on climate change, Turnbull remained strong on the “very well designed” climate policy developed by his colleagues Julie Bishop and Greg Hunt.
The topic of climate change could remain a contentious one for Turnbull, due to his previously outspoken perspective supporting emissions reductions.
Despite past support for an emissions trading scheme, Turnbull has defended the current renewable energy targets set by the previous government to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
The pressure is mounting for the Turnbull government to address the Direct Action policy, which will hopefully move towards policy resembling a trading scheme or a minimum cap on industry emissions.
New Party, New Ideology?
Many are hopeful that Turnbull’s reputation for climate change advocacy and more moderate views than his pre-decessor, that relations with the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation will improve after ongoing hostile relations with the previous government.
The Australian Government’s pledges to tackle climate change have been relatively weak in relation to other developed nations, putting added pressure on Australia leading up to UN climate talks in Paris later this year.
Despite remaining strong that climate change policy will remain unchanged for now, the Prime Minister has left the door open to the possibility of policy change in the future.
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“Policies will change in the light of changed conditions, of course they will,” he said.
“But we stand by every decision we make, the cabinet stands by every decision we make, and as we revise them and improve them in the light of experience we will stand by those, too.”
Hopes for a Stronger Stance on Climate Action
One thing is for sure, aside from Liberal Party politics, Turnbull’s personal views on climate change are very clear.
“Climate change is real, it is affecting us now, and yet, right now we have every resources available to us to deal with climate change, except for one, and that is leadership… we cannot cost-effectively achieve a substantial cut in emissions without putting a price on carbon.” he said in 2010.
Turnbull further stated in February this year “I will be voting for the ETS legislation when it returns in February and if my colleagues have any sense they will do so as well.”
With a what many are seeing as a promising change in leadership, climate change has once again become a hot topic on the Australian political agenda. If Turnbull is as passionate as he has been in the past, Australia’s future climate action looks slow but promising.