Australia's change of heart threatens UN climate treaty

Australia is facing an internal crisis over its regulations on fossil-file emissions.

Its program aimed at reining in the country's biggest polluters is losing momentum as the nation's new government debates with its political opponents over how to scale-back earlier rules.

The move would significantly setback the international talks on mitigating climate change.

Australis is seen as a top player in the United Nations' climate talks because of its pull with China and India, Bloomberg reports.

The about-face comes as the U.N. is preparing a series of climate talks for later this year. The U.N. is hoping to help 190 nations reach a pact that would set emissions reduction targets for both industrialized and developing countries for the first time.

China and India, however, have indicated they may not join the treaty if other richer nations, like Australia, do not take part.

“It feels like a 180-degree turn for Australia,” Jake Schmidt, director of international climate policy at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council told Bloomberg News. “That’s the hardest thing for the international community to take.”