CANBERRA -- Greens Leader Richard Di Natale has revealed he will attend November's crucial climate conference in Paris, challenging Prime Minister Tony Abbott to take global warming seriously.
Senator Di Natale told The Huffington Post Australia that he will join Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the summit. Abbott has yet to commit himself to the conference but has indicated he may attend if other world leaders sign on.
Di Natale said the PM would be "laughed out of Paris if he attended with the views he holds" -- and revealed he would be happy to play spoiler if the Government "drags its heels".
“If you don’t take this issue seriously, if it does not come from the leaders of political parties, then it is very hard to be taken seriously on it,” he told HuffPost Australia.
“Tony Abbott, if he was really serious about doing something meaningful on climate change, then he would be there, and he would be helping to drive the debate towards action.
“He’s not. He is a roadblock towards action.”
The Greens Leader said the Prime Minister held “retrograde” environmental views.
“I think he will be laughed out of Paris, frankly, if he attended with the views that he holds,” he said.
Last week the Abbott Government announced it will take a post-2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to Paris of 26-28 percent by 2030, based on emissions from the year 2005.
Rejecting criticism from environmentalists, Julie Bishop told HuffPost Australia earlier this week that the target is responsible, credible and non-negotiable.
But the Greens Leader said the deal is “not done”.
“There is a lot of room to move on this," Di Natale said.
“You have to remember, community opinion both here in Australia and internationally are important and they will influence where the government lands on this.”
The Foreign Minister said Paris is not a place for negotiations. Bishop said international negotiations killed the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference and she did not want Paris to fail.
Di Natale agreed.
“Paris will be important. I don’t think it will be the only decisive factor that determines how we as an international community decide to take action, but it will be an important stepping stone and of course we want that to succeed," he said.
The Senator insisted the visit would be meaningful even though he would not officially represent Australia.
“To ensure that you are there, doing the groundwork, helping to shape and influence that might take us as a planet forward is important," he said.
“I’d be happy to be a spoiler for Tony Abbott or Julie Bishop, if their position is really to be an obstacle towards getting a global climate agreement.”
“If the Government is going to drag its heals, then we will absolutely shine a spotlight on that.”