Tony Abbott has claimed climate change is ‘probably doing good’ for the planet because far more people die in cold snaps than they do in heat waves.
The former Australian prime minister made the comments in his speech to the Global Warming Policy foundation in London on Monday night.
Mr Abbott, who has long been a climate change skeptic, said the ‘so-called settled science of climate change’ was ‘absolute cr*p’.
Mr Abbott also likened climate scientists to the ‘thought police’ at the London conference, which included other British climate change skeptics.
He said Australian efforts to reduce emissions would be futile on a global platform.
Mr Abbott told the centre-right Global Warming Policy Forum climate-change policies did more harm than global warming itself.
‘Climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm,’ he said.
‘Far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.’
Mr Abbott also rubbished assertions that climate change was behind every big weather event.
‘The floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s,’ he said.
‘Sometimes they do more damage, but that’s because there’s more to destroy, not because their intensity has increased.’
Mr Abbott said he noticed no adverse effect to his electorate, in Sydney’s northern suburbs.
‘More than 100 years of photography at Manly Beach in my electorate does not suggest that sea levels have risen despite frequent reports from climate alarmists that this is imminent,’ he said.
When Mr Abbott was prime minister in 2015 he reduced the renewable energy target to 33,000 GwH per year, in commitment to the global Paris Accord.
In past years he said his personal view on climate change was stifled when he held office.
After his climate change speech hit headlines on Tuesday, Mr Abbott was slammed on social media.
‘Please stop talking until you can think more than one day ahead. Consult with scientists before asserting your idiocy,’ one critic said on Twitter.
‘Australia’s former prime minister Tony Abbott denies climate change then calls it ‘beneficial’. Yea, it’s confusing,’ another said.
In 2009 the former prime minister famously told a Liberal Party dinner he thought the science behind climate change was ‘cr*p’ – eight years before he said the same thing this week.
While he was in office, Mr Abbott also appointed a climate change denier as his top business adviser and put another skeptic in charge of reviewing the country’s renewable energy policy.
While most people condemned Mr Abbott’s argument on Tuesday, he was not without his supporters.
‘I agree with Tony Abbott. If the weather is getting warmer, that has to be good!’ one Twitter user said.