| OTTAWA, June 9
OTTAWA, June 9 The right-leaning leaders of
Canada and Australia, both under pressure over their
environmental records, on Monday said action to fight climate
change should not harm their nations' economies.
The Obama administration last week unveiled regulations that
would force the U.S. power sector to cut carbon dioxide output
30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.
The move focused critics' attention on Canada - a big energy
exporter that has no chance of meeting current climate change
targets - and Australia, where the new government is pushing to
repeal taxes on carbon and mining emissions.
Asked whether the new U.S. initiative put them under any
pressure to rethink their approaches, both leaders made clear
that it did not.
"We think that climate change is a significant problem. It's
not the only - or even the most important - problem that the
world faces," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told a joint
news conference with his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper.
"We should do what we reasonably can to limit emissions and
avoid man-made climate change, but we shouldn't clobber the
economy. That's why I have always been against a carbon tax or
emissions trading scheme because it harms our economy without
necessarily helping the environment," he said.
Abbott's Liberals took power last year after promising to
scrap mining and carbon taxes on the grounds they had boosted
industry costs while doing little to cut emissions. Greens
decried the decision.
Abbott said Obama's plan matched steps his government was
planning to take. Harper said Canada had already taken much
stricter measures to fight power plant pollution.
Canada has pledged to cut output of greenhouse gases by 17
percent of 2005 levels by 2020. But official figures show this
target cannot be met unless further measures are taken.
One major challenge is mushrooming emissions from the energy
sector, in particular the oil sands.
"It's not that we don't seek to deal with climate change.
But we seek to deal with it in a way that will protect and
enhance our ability to create jobs and growth, not destroy jobs
and growth in our countries," said Harper.
No nation would fight global warming if it meant taking
steps that would harm the economy, he said.
"We are just a little bit more frank about that, but that is
the approach that every country is seeking," he added.
Canada's Conservative government pulled out of the Kyoto
accord on climate change in 2011, saying the pact did not cover
all major emitters of greenhouse gasses, notably the United
States and China.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Dan Grebler)