Climate hawks around the world were cheering this week with news that Australia’s climate-denying prime minister, Tony Abbott, had been ousted and replaced by former communications minister Malcolm Turnbull in a dramatic vote Monday night.
“Turnbull secured 54 votes from his parliamentary colleagues, giving him a narrow edge over Abbott’s 44 votes, after promising a new style of leadership that respected voters’ intelligence and restored traditional cabinet government,” The Guardian reports.
“Tony Abbott is out of a job, and another leading climate-change skeptic may soon follow,” blared a Washington Post headline Monday morning, referring to a federal election October 19 that could bring an end to the rule of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “Under Harper’s watch, Canada has assumed the role of a kind of petro-state—a transformation that reflects Ottawa’s apparent lack of seriousness in enacting meaningful climate-change policy” and positioned Harper as a “kindred spirit” for Abbott.
“In 2009, Turnbull, a backbencher in Abbott’s party, described Abbott’s climate policies as ‘bullsh*t,’” the Post reports. But both the Post and the Guardian report that Turnbull is likely to continue Abbott’s policies until national elections expected in 2016.
“Turnbull actually supports climate action and has long understood the economic implications of the transition required. And rather than being fearful of those implications he embraces them, seeing the inherent opportunity in a transition away from coal and towards a technology-driven transformation of the energy system,” author and corporate advisor Paul Gilding told RenewEconomy. “The influence of this over time, on the business community and on public attitudes, will be long-lasting and leave a legacy for a generation.”
RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson listed eight steps Turnbull can take to shift Australia’s position on climate and renewables. He said the new government can start by abandoning unhelpful slogans like “axe the tax” and “climate change is crap”, getting excited about new technology, getting busy on climate change, and getting rid of “the dead wood,” by “sweeping away the inner cabal that fashioned Abbott’s policy-making.”