Coalition MP backs Abbott on Paris pact

Pat Griffiths
Liberal MP Craig Kelly says Australia should be out of the Paris climate agreement

An influential, conservative backbencher is championing former prime minister Tony Abbott's call for Australia to quit the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Coalition MP Craig Kelly echoed the latest rationale given by Mr Abbott for leaving the agreement that he signed up to as prime minister, namely that it no longer applied to Australia following the US decision to withdraw in 2017.

"The Paris Agreement is no longer applicable to all. The USA is no longer in the agreement," Mr Kelly told the ABC on Saturday.

"China, (the) world's largest emissions polluter, is not doing it till later."

But Labor MP Pat Conroy said Mr Kelly had the facts wrong - the US couldn't fully quit the deal until after its next presidential election.

"As the highest emissions country in the world, we need to make those commitments," Mr Conroy said.

"We are seeing Tony Abbott and Craig crab-walking away from a commitment willingly and knowing what it would result in."

Both MPs are members of the federal committee on environment and energy.

Mr Kelly said discontent within the coalition regarding its own signature energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee, shouldn't be seen as disunity.

A number of government MPs, including Mr Abbott and Mr Kelly, have expressed concern over the policy.

"It is open debate and throwing ideas on the table," Mr Kelly said, who wants greater emphasis given to coal power, denying that would constitute a subsidy.

"Having a structure where you make sure you direct the investment into a coal-fired power station is not subsidising it," he said.

"It is a completely different kettle of fish."

Mr Conroy claimed such measures were a recipe for high power prices.

"We have to replace coal-fired power stations that are about to close down because they're very old," he said.

"But the cheapest new form of power is renewable energy backed up by gas and power hydro - That's what industry is saying."