Former US vice-president Al Gore has said that "history will not be kind" to politicians who stand in the way of climate action and he expected President Barack Obama would raise the issue with Tony Abbott when the two leaders met at the White House, overnight Australian time.

"I am not a citizen of Australia and I don't feel I have the privilege of entering your political debate," Mr Gore said.

"But we have had deniers of the climate crisis in office in the US as well. History will not be kind to those who looked away, much less those who sought to prevent [action on climate change]."

Mr Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his climate-change activism, said he was aware that Mr Abbott had once described climate-change science using "a scatological term" and that the government had de-funded bodies established to advise the government on climate change.

"I don't pretend to know what the basis of his thinking is, but Mother Nature has a louder voice," he said, referring to increasing incidences of severe weather. Mr Gore said that although Mr Abbott had not asked for his advice and was unlikely to do so, if he had a few minutes with the Prime Minister he would ask him to "think of your children and grandchildren, think of the people who are already suffering the consequences of the climate crisis''.

He said Australia had among the best scientists in the world - perhaps the best on a per capita basis - and they agreed that the nation was bound to suffer among the worst consequences of climate change.