Tony Abbott appears ready to call Barack Obama's bluff on taking stronger climate change action, asserting that the US President's plan only mirrors the coalition Government's so-called direct action policy.
But before even going into his first meeting at the White House as Prime Minister later this week, Mr Abbott has had his spine stiffened by a political ally and fellow anti-carbon tax campaigner.
Canadian PM Stephen Harper used a joint press conference with Mr Abbott in Ottawa yesterday to convey scepticism about Mr Obama's vow to reduce America's emissions.
"No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country," Mr Harper said.
"We are just a little more frank about that."
Mr Obama has promised to use what is left of his final term in office to drive climate change action and has promised to slash emissions from coal-fired power stations by 30 per cent.
Mr Abbott and Mr Harper aim to forge a push-back against climate change activism with other "centre-right" political world leaders including those from New Zealand and India.
Mr Abbott said his Government believed in "strong action" to deal with climate change.
"It's not the only or even the most important problem that the world faces, but it is a significant problem," he said. "I am encouraged that President Obama is taking what I would regard as direct action measures to reduce emissions. This is very similar to the actions that my Government proposes to take in Australia."
Under the coalition's yet-to-be-legislated direct action policy, taxpayers would pay polluters to reduce their emissions.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott was ignoring the long-term interests of Australia and the world with his stance on climate change.
"It is wrong to pass on to the next generation the legacy of not dealing with climate change because the current Abbott Government refuses to deal with climate change," he said.