US behind China on carbon - Turnbull

Lenore Taylor April 04, 2012

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''I think we are more likely to see leadership out of China than America" ... Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

CHINA is more likely than the United States to provide global climate change leadership, the former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull believes.

The Coalition leader, Tony Abbott, cites the impact of soaring Chinese emissions as one of the ''crazy things'' about Australia's plans to reduce its emissions by 5 per cent by 2020.

In an interview with The Monthly magazine, Mr Turnbull agrees the growth in Chinese emissions is ''the big problem'' compared with the other major world emitter, the US.

But, he says, ''the Americans are in a period of dysfunctionality on this … the Chinese are very alert to it and are introducing an emissions trading scheme. It's a trial and it's got a very small price, but the Chinese do take it seriously.

''I think we are more likely to see leadership out of China than America.'' China is trialling an emissions trading scheme in seven provinces, but was widely condemned for cruelling any chances of an international climate change deal at the 2009 United Nations meeting in Copenhagen.

Mr Turnbull said he found it astonishing that climate change denialism was now a pre-requisite for Republican presidential candidates in the US, where a ''war against science'' had been successfully waged by vested interests.

The Coalition's position is to accept the science of climate change, although Mr Abbott once famously described the idea that the scientific debate was settled as ''absolute crap''.

Mr Turnbull also said he thought there was little prospect that military action in Afghanistan would result in ''what many in the West think of as victory'', with the corruption in the Karzai government inhibiting the possibility of winning ''hearts and minds'' and any kind of peace requiring compromise with elements of the Taliban.

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