Europe is unhappy with Australia’s decision to drop climate change from the G20 agenda and is lobbying the Abbott government to reconsider.
European Union officials say Australia has become completely “disengaged” on climate change since Prime Minister Tony Abbott was elected in September last year.
They are disappointed with Mr Abbott’s approach, saying Australia was considered an important climate change player under Labor.
One well-placed EU official has likened the change to “losing an ally”.
The EU has a long-running emissions trading scheme which was going to be linked to Australia’s market.
But Mr Abbott has pledged to scrap the carbon price in favour of his Direct Action policy.
Europe is sceptical of Mr Abbott’s replacement plan.
“You have a huge amount of scientists and economists saying the Direct Action policy isn’t going to work,” the official, who did not want to be named, told AAP in the Belgian capital Brussels this week.
The well-placed official was particularly critical of Mr Abbott’s decision not to have climate change on the agenda when the leaders of the world’s 20 richest nations gather in Brisbane later this year.
Mr Abbott has said he doesn’t want the G20 agenda “cluttered” by topics that would take the focus from his top priority of economic growth.
“We’re not very happy about it,” the official said.
“This is an issue of global importance, and the G20 are the global players on this.”
The EU is using official channels to urge the government to reconsider its position.
The US is reportedly also unhappy with Mr Abbott’s decision.
Climate change has been on the G20 agenda at the most recent leaders meetings in France, Mexico and Russia.
The EU’s comments come just days after the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which said the effects of climate change are being felt across the globe and some parts of the natural world may already be undergoing irreversible change.
Another EU official says it hopes the report encourages Australia to change course.
“It was a very frightening report,” he told AAP.