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Global dilemma: economy v environment

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - 02:24

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned next year's climate change summit in Paris will fail if world leaders cut emissions at the cost of jobs. David Pollard asks why climate change needs to go on the back burner when times are hard?

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President Obama made sure climate change was centre stage at the recent G20 meeting in Australia. And his warning to his host about the risks to the Great Barrier Reef reportedly angered organisers. Next year Paris will host a climate change summit. And it seems Australia's Prime Minister is still not on board. He used a meeting with the French President to explain how the struggling world economy had to be the priority. (SOUNDBITE)(English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER TONY ABBOTT SAYING: "It's vital that the Paris conference be a success, unlike Copenhagen, and for it to be a success, we can't pursue environmental improvements at the expense of economic progress. We can't reduce emissions in ways which cost jobs because it will fail if that's what we end up trying to do." When you have a mining industry the size of Australia's it's easy to see why the country is one of the world's biggest per capita carbon emitters. It has set targets to reduce emissions by 2020 to 5% below what they were in 2000. But the government has no plans to pay anything into a global Green Climate Fund - and many think they should. Francois Hollande, who has plenty of economic issues to deal with in France, is in favour of a new legally binding deal on carbon emissions. He wants it linked to a new UN fund to help poor nations cope with global warming. (SOUNDBITE)(French with English translation) FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE SAYING: "Very clearly, if we want the emerging countries and the more fragile countries to participate in this global growth, we have to be around them, we have to support them." The lack of unity from political leaders is a problem for green campaigners and it won't encourage businesses either, says Richard Hunter from Hargreaves Landsdown. (SOUNDBITE) (English) : RICHARD HUNTER, HARGREAVES LANSDOWN, SAYING: "There are in terms of emissions unquestionably things to be done. "It's very difficult to actually galvanize people into funding these kinds of projects. Business is usually the last of course unless it can see some sort of return on its capital. And of course we know globally given where the global economy is at the moment a lot of governments are under pressure." The G20 ended with a call for strong and effective action to address climate change with an aim to reach a legally binding deal in Paris. That could now depend on how the world economy fares over the next year.

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Global dilemma: economy v environment

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - 02:24