Climate won't change: Ex-Australian PM Abbott bets

climate change bet
A written statement by Tony Abbott's associate, Blair Hickey, of witnessing the bet between the former Australian prime minister and writer Cassie Flanagan Willanski on climate change. Photo: IANS
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Sydney: Tony Abbott bet me $100 that the climate will not change in 10 years, says an Australian writer and author of 'Here Where We Live'. Cassie Flanagan Willanski says the former Australian Prime Minister is so confident "climate change is nothing to worry about" that he put his money on it.

Abbott has bet me $100 that in ten years' time, the climate will not have changed, Willanski told the Guardian.

"He (Abbott) was going to prove he disagreed with climate science, with the majority of Australian voters and with the mother of a six-year-old who had just literally begged him to take the climate emergency seriously, with a jocular bet. No doubt he expected me to laugh and back down," the author said.

"When I found myself in a Manly coffee shop last week being offered the bet, I was incredulous. Abbott was smiling, charmingly dismissive," the writer, a white Australian herself, who took a brave and honest look at the relationship between white Australians and Indigenous Australians in her book, said.

"This person with the power to help steer the world away from anthropogenic disaster wasn't having a bar of my concerns about climate change," Willanski was stunned. She related: "He wasn't going to help; he was going to wield his status and wealth to show how confident he was in his position of not doing anything."

Willanski told the Guardian: "Maybe I should have (backed down), amazed and insulted beyond belief. Maybe I should have said instead (as my husband suggested when I got home) "I'm not going to bet $100.

"Bet me something substantial, like your electorate, or all your power, so that you'll actually be motivated to work to save the climate."

"But all I could think of at the time was that Abbott was eager to go on record as - a) completely ignorant of climate science and b) completely dismissive of a parent and her concerns for her child's future. I agreed to the bet," Willanski said.

The bet had come about when Willanski went to meet her Sydney cousin at a coffee shop where she discovered that Abbott had chosen the same place to have lunch. Children striking for climate action, inspired by sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, were wrapping up a protest outside his office round the corner, she told the Guardian.

The writer, who has a six year old daughter, introduced herself, and told Abbott: "The IPCC report tells us that we have 12 years to deal with climate change. In 12 years time she'll be 18. I had to speak to you on her behalf and beg you to take climate change and her future seriously."

Abbott launched into a well-rehearsed rebuff about how my daughter and I wouldn't be very well off in the future if I lost my job and our industries closed down, said Willanski.

But Abbott disagreed and instead offered the bet of $100 that the climate would not change in 10 years, which the writer accepted.

Willanski explained the wording. I said "the climate won't change" was extremely broad. Abbott suggested "we won't all be frying" (I'm from South Australia and having survived multiple heatwaves this summer, including a record breaking 46.7 degree day, I beg to differ).

Showing an outrageous ignorance of climate science for someone in his position, Abbott mused, "Maybe it will have gone up by about half a degree..."

"Half a degree is huge!" I countered, horrified. In the end the broad wording of "the climate won't change in ten years" was agreed on.

We shook hands. Abbott's associate wrote it down and witnessed it and we both signed.

Australia goes to poll on May 18.

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