Tony Abbott is once again fine with Australia being part of the Paris climate deal now that Scott Morrison, not Malcolm Turnbull, is in charge of the nation’s emissions.
Mr Abbott says he signed Australia up to the landmark 2015 international agreement believing the target to cut emissions could be met ‘without substantial policy change and without significant additional costs on the economy’.
After Mr Turnbull ousted him and took over as prime minister, Mr Abbott changed his tune to say the 26 to 28 per cent target for cutting emissions he committed to was only aspirational.
Then he called for Australia to follow Donald Trump’s lead and dump the agreement.
Now he’s changed his mind again.
‘I certainly thought a few months ago that the only way to break the emissions obsession was to pull out of Paris,’ he told a Warringah candidates panel in Sydney on Friday.
‘I think that the government has lost its emissions obsession now that Angus Taylor is the energy minister so I don’t think it is now necessary … I’m not calling for us to pull out.’
When asked what circumstances had changed, Mr Abbott was blunt: ‘We’ve got a new prime minister and a new energy minister.’
The last straw for agitators against Mr Turnbull’s leadership – including Mr Abbott – was his national energy guarantee policy, which would have required electricity generators to cut emissions while meeting reliability standards.
Mr Abbott is under pressure in the coming federal election from high profile independent Zali Steggall, who has made climate change the top issue of her campaign.
The pair were seated next to each other at the candidate forum and clashed in a fiery debate on several topics.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said no one could seriously think Mr Abbott now believed in climate change – something the Liberal infamously said was ‘absolute crap’.
‘He’s under pressure in his own seat and now all of a sudden he’s a born-again lefty on climate change? Spare me,’ Mr Shorten told reporters in Adelaide.
Mr Morrison has recently announced a $2 billion extension to Mr Abbott’s emission reduction fund – now rebadged as the climate solutions fund – and Commonwealth funding for Mr Turnbull’s pet hydro-electricity project Snowy 2.0.