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Tony Abbott Says Australia Is The Only Country To Keep Its Promises On Climate Change

The PM's comments come after moving to stop investment in wind and solar projects.

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Prime minister Tony Abbott thinks that the world isn't giving Australia enough credit for its efforts to reduce emissions.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

Speaking at a farm in Tirrannaville near Goulburn on Monday, the prime minister was commenting on Australia's position going into the upcoming UN climate change conference in Paris.

"This government doesn't get enough credit. Australia doesn't get enough credit, for the emissions reduction work that we have already done. We don't get enough credit for the environmental protection that has already been achieved," he said.

Tony Abbott told reporters that his government had made "strong and credible" achievements in emissions reductions, and that they would be in a good position in Paris.

"It will build on the 13% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels that we are well and truly on track to achieve," he said.

He also threw down a challenge to other nations:

"The difference between Australia and a lot of other countries is when we make commitments to reduce emissions, we keep them. Other countries make all these airy fairy promises that in the end never come to anything," the prime minister said.

Glenn Hunt / Getty Images

(Maybe he's still upset about that time he was left out of a photo of G20 leaders last year.)

His comments come on the same day as the release of a Climate Council report that found Australia is behind the rest of the world in cutting emissions.

Climate Council

The report found that Australia is one of the largest emitters per capita, and the 13th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.

It also found that Australia is now lagging behind other countries on climate action, and recommended a 40-60% reduction below 2000 levels by 2030 as the "bare minimum" to get Australia in line with the rest of the world.

Australia currently has an emissions reduction target of 5% by 2020 and is expected to announce its next target in the coming weeks.

The independent Climate Council says the number of record hot days in Australia has doubled in the last 50 years and there is proof that climate change is creating longer, hotter heatwaves.

The Climate Council says that the prime minister's comments that other countries did not deliver on their climate goals was incorrect.

Tinnakorn / Getty Images / Anna Mendoza / Via climatechangeauthority.gov.au

"It's a strange assessment for the prime minister to make when China, the U.S. and Europe are all on track to meet their emissions reduction targets," Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie told BuzzFeed News.

"The US is on track to meet a 27% reduction by 2020 and a 26% reduction by 2025," she said.

In contrast, McKenzie said some analysis suggests that Australia is not on track to meet its 5% reductions target.

The Climate Council also criticised the government for moving to stop investment in wind farms and small-scale solar through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Flickr: 99815049@N07

Facing criticism over the decision, environment minister Greg Hunt said it was the job of the CEFC to invest in new technologies, so wind and solar didn't count.

But Amanda McKenzie says this way of thinking would cripple renewable energy in Australia.

"In terms of addressing climate change, we know it is urgent to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, including large scale wind and household solar, and bringing it to market as quickly as possible. We can't wait for emerging technology to come online, we need to back the technology that is ready to go now," she said, adding that one million jobs were created in renewable energy around the world last year.

A panel of African countries led by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan singled out Australia as a "free-rider" on climate change in a report released in June.

Afp / Getty Images

"Several countries including Australia and Canada appear to have withdrawn

entirely from constructive international engagement on climate," the report said.

“With one of the world’s highest levels of per capita emissions, Australia has gone from leadership to free-rider status in climate diplomacy.”

So what has the government been doing to help stop climate change? Along with other initiatives such as the Green Army, the centrepiece of its direct action plan is an Emissions Reduction Fund.

Stefan Postles / Getty Images

The Emissions Reduction Fund is designed to "provide incentives for emissions reduction activities across the Australian economy."

But it's not like other countries have been ignoring it, they just don't think it's very good.

Thinkstock / Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed

Earlier this year, the Australian government was slammed by countries including China and Brazil and accused of having “low level of ambition” when it came to fighting climate change.

In its submission to the UN, China questioned whether the emissions reduction fund under Australia's direct action policy would make up for the carbon tax, abolished by the Abbott government.

It's unclear whether the international community will give Tony Abbott the credit he deserves for fighting climate change, one awkward tree-planting photo opportunity at a time.

Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Alex Lee at alexandra.lee@buzzfeed.com.

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