With a 22,300-mile coastline, offshore winds and almost perpetual sunshine, Australia could be leading the world in replacing carbon-spewing fossil fuels with renewable-energy sources. That is unlikely to happen, though, under Tony Abbott, who has proclaimed coal to be “good for humanity” – and who revealed that he detests wind farms, calling them noisy and “visually awful”. Abbott bragged that he had halted the spread of wind farms by slashing the amount of energy to be generated by renewable sources by 2020 by 20 per cent. He added: “I frankly would have liked to have reduced the number a lot more.”
Abbott’s first actions, on being elected in 2013, was to order a businessman and leading climate change sceptic, Dick Warburton, to review a renewable energy target set by a previous government. Mr Warburton recommended the target be radically cut. Abbott abolished a carbon-pricing scheme on coming to power and has dismissed “the climate change argument” as “absolute crap.” His government is considered one of the most environmentally hostile in living memory. It has sanctioned a cull of endangered great white sharks in Western Australia, permitted dredging spoil to be dumped on the Great Barrier Reef and attempted to have ancient Tasmanian forests removed from the World Heritage List.