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The Financial Times has published a brutal editorial on the Australian government's 'lamentable' response to the climate crisis

James Hennessy

The world is always watching, it seems.

As Australia faces down one of its worst bushfire seasons on record and Prime Minister Scott Morrison tries to navigate criticism of his holiday jaunt to Hawaii, the Financial Times has published an editorial on the situation, condemning Australia's "lamentable response" to climate change.

"The scale of the country’s wildfire emergency has few precedents," the financial newspaper's editorial board writes.

"But it has been exacerbated by a regrettable lack of leadership from the prime minister, Scott Morrison. Beyond Australia’s shores, his government stands as a reproach to any leaders tempted to follow its lamentable response to the deepening threat of climate change."

The piece criticises both Australia's domestic and international approach to the problem – conceding that while Australia's individual contribution to emissions may be small, its efforts to weaken and dodge international agreements weakens the global effort to tackle climate change.

"It is true that cutting pollution in Australia alone would not physically prevent its bushfires, or the devastating floods and drought it has endured in recent times," the editorial reads.

"Global warming requires a global response. But that response will never come if wealthy nations such as Australia continue to behave as if climate breakdown is a problem for others."

The fact the FT – a liberal financial publication which generally supports the centre-right politics espoused by the governing Coalition – has weighed in so strongly has not gone unnoticed by Australians on social media.

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It isn't the first time international media has criticised Australia for its climate politics

We've copped it before for our 'she'll be right' attitude to the unfolding global climate crisis.

Back in August last year, the New York Times editorial board published a piece bemoaning the fact Australia's climate politics were so toxic despite the fact we "should be a global leader in battling climate change".

"Ideology and idiocy, of course, are not limited to climate policy or to any country," the piece read. "But it is especially dismaying when science-denying hacks and self-serving industries block action that is in the obvious and urgent interest of all humanity. That should not be happening in Australia."

In May, The Guardian published an editorial urging Australians to vote for parties and candidates who would present a credible plan to tackle climate change.

"In Australia the Coalition appears deaf to the rising clamour from the electorate," the editorial reads.

"After tearing itself apart and dumping a prime minister to avoid implementing a functional climate plan, it clings to an obviously deficient emissions reduction target and has been forced back to Tony Abbott’s discredited climate policy because the hard right will countenance nothing else."

Despite mounting criticism, Scott Morrison denies his government will change tack

The firestorm of criticism about the government's policy on climate change, exacerbated by the bushfire crisis and the PR disaster of Scott Morrison's much-maligned holiday to Hawaii, hasn't moved the needle politically. At least, that's what the prime minister is saying.

In his first public comments after jetting back from Honolulu on Sunday, Morrison rejected calls for a more muscular response to the climate crisis.

"People can expect my government to do what it promised to do, what it took to the last election," he said. "I don’t accept the suggestion that Australia is not carrying its weight."

"We are meeting and beating our targets and there are very few countries who can say that."

It's worth noting Australia proposes to "meet and beat" its targets using Kyoto carryover credits, which are carbon credits accumulated thanks to the overachievement of goals set by the Kyoto Protocol. Many economists and world governments argue the use of Kyoto credits is invalid.

Morrison's comments run counter to the admission by his own deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, who agreed Australia "absolutely" should take further action to fight climate change.

In a press conference while filling in for Morrison – who was still returning from Hawaii – McCormack agreed with a reporter who asked if "community sentiment on climate change" had changed thanks to the bushfire crisis, and that "further action" would be required.

"Yeah I do, absolutely - I do agree entirely," he said.