Climate change not a fantasy, warns IMF chief

SydneyMorningHerald, Peter Wilson, Jonathan Swan, Feb 15, 2014

Australia was a pioneer in tackling climate change and should remain a pioneer, says Head of IMF Christine Lagarde in response to a question about the Abbott government’s approach to global warming.

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, has urged the Abbott government not to abandon Australia’s role as what she calls “a pioneer” in the debate on climate change.

The former finance minister of France said it would be a mistake to assign climate issues to “the backburner” because action to reduce carbon emissions could strengthen economic growth as well as protect the environment.

Speaking in Paris before her first visit to Australia as IMF chief next week to attend a G20 meeting, Ms Lagarde said previous Australian governments had played an important role in international debates about climate change.

“Australia was very much at the forefront, Australia was pioneering in this field and I would hope that it continues to be a pioneer,” said Ms Lagarde, who as a politician was a conservative. “I do think that climate change issues and progress in that regard are critical and are not just fantasies, they are real issues.”

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