According to reports, China and India will become the global leaders in action against global warming, according to the Australian politician who has been called a “climate change martyr”. Malcolm Turnbull, who lost the leadership of the Liberal party for supporting a carbon emissions trading scheme, said the climate impacts on those nations will see them act.
“China and India will take the global leadership on climate change: they are suffering for it,” Turnbull told the Guardian. He warned that an “extraordinary war against science” in the US and elsewhere would see nations trailing in China’s wake. “The paradox is that as the physical signs of climate change get stronger, the political will gets weaker in the US.”
“Look at countries like China, they are determined to dominate all clean technology areas, putting lots of money into wind, solar, electric vehicles and battery storage,” he said. “America’s political impotence, cause by their terrible partisanship, will see them left behind.”
Turnbull also lambasted Australia’s Labour prime minister, Julia Gillard, for failing to sell the carbon trading system to the public successfully, and predicted the return of Kevin Rudd, who Gillard ousted, within four months. “The advocacy is just woeful,” he said. “To get big reforms like carbon trading through, you have to understand it completely, be able to articulate it compellingly and the public have to believe you believe it.”
“The carbon trading debate [in Australia] has become a cost of living debate,” Turnbull added. It will increase the cost of living by just 0.7%, he said.
Climate change has become a more politically lethal issue in Australia than in any other nation, having toppled prime ministers and leaders of the opposition. Rudd pledged to deliver a carbon trading system, but as prime minister dropped it and lost his job. Gillard had opposed carbon trading but now is implementing it and, if Turnbull is right about his political opponent, will also lose her job.
Turnbull himself worked on carbon trading legislation while in government, and backed it when leader of the opposition, but that cost him his post, losing by a vote to the climate-change sceptic Tony Abbott, leading the Sydney Morning Herald to call him a “climate change martyr”. He is now shadow communications minister.
Turnbull also criticised Rudd. “He abandoned the greatest moral challenge of our age,” when he backed down on carbon trading, he said. “I lost my job because I stuck to my principles, he lost his by abandoning his. The difficulty is that if you keep on selling out your principles in politics, you get left with nothing.”
Winning the argument on cutting greenhouse gas emissions was a question of sticking to your guns, he said, as the idea of billions of people in emerging economies starting to use carbon-based energy at same level as western nations do now “is clearly not sustainable”.