Abbott: 'I regard myself as a conservationist'
Prime Minister Tony Abbott describes his meeting with US President Barack Obama. Courtesy ABC Radio.PT0M0S 620 349
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described himself as a ''conservationist'' who has no disagreement with US President Barack Obama on the subject of climate change.
Speaking after his meeting with Mr Obama in Washington, Mr Abbott played down any differences between the two leaders, saying that both he and the US President took climate change ''very seriously''.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is a conservationist and there is no disagreement between himself and Obama on climate change. Photo: Andrew Meares
''We all want to do the right thing by our planet,'' he told ABC Radio on Friday. ''I regard myself as a conservationist.''
In the lead-up to the talks, there were fears that differences between Mr Abbott and Mr Obama over climate change would hamper their first meeting since Mr Abbott won the election.
At their media conference after their meeting, neither Mr Abbott or Mr Obama raised the issue of climate change in their statements and did not take questions from the media.
Mr Obama recently announced a 30 per cent cut in emissions from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030, which he hopes to achieve through a combination of regulation and a price on carbon.
This sits in contrast to Australia's more modest target of a 5 per cent cut in 2000 emissions levels by 2020.
During his overseas travels, Mr Abbott has also said that there are bigger problems than climate change and in his meeting with conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the two made a point of reinforcing their opposition to carbon pricing.
Mr Abbott also suggested an alliance between conservative-led countries to block action on climate change that included emissions trading schemes or pricing carbon, which was immediately rejected by Britain and New Zealand.
While Mr Abbott's meeting with Mr Obama dealt with security and foreign policy issues, it is also understood that climate change was raised in the context of energy efficiency being discussed at the upcoming G20 meeting.
The Prime Minister has been resisting a push by US officials to have climate change included on the agenda for meeting in Brisbane in November.
But Mr Abbott later told the ABC that he did not want to characterise their discussion on the matter as ''agreeing to disagree'', describing it instead as ''constructive'' and ''good''.
''I don't think people should run around pretending there is disagreement where none exists,'' he said.
The Prime Minister said that both countries had strong and effective policies in place or coming into place.
Before the meeting, former US vice-president Al Gore told Fairfax Media that ''history will not be kind'' to politicians who stood in the way of climate action.
Mr Abbott's stance also drew criticism from retiring US politician Henry Waxman, who said he hoped that Australia did not ''become a drag on what we need to all be doing around the world''.
With Mark Kenny, AAP