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Australian environment minister says he's fed up with 'crazy leftie activists'

An environment minister from Australia has complained that he wants out of the job because of 'crazy leftie activists' and wannabe 'Greta Thunbergs' making his life hell. 

David Speirs, a centre-right politician from South Australia, bemoaned the 'myths and nonsense' promoted by left-wing activists who he accused of putting 'all the ills of the world' down to climate change. 

Mr Speirs told a private fundraising event that he is in favour of cutting emissions and going green, but that activists should target climate 'laggers' such as India and China instead of going after Australia which is phasing in renewable energy.  

David Speirs, the climate minister for South Australia, said action on carbon emissions is needed but isn't being helped by 'crazy leftie' activists and wannabe 'Greta Thunbergs'

The 36-year-old, who last week lost out on a bid to become South Australia's deputy leader, said: 'I like this (job) but if you want to have a quiet chat with the Premier about other opportunities then I am happy for you to do so.

'The crazy leftie activists, they do wear you down... so I think every few years you need to see a bit of a refresh,' he added, according to the Adelaide Advertiser.

'There’s only so many times you can deal with the Greta Thunbergs of South Australia.'

The opposition Labour Party immediately seized on the remarks to accuse Scotland-born Mr Speirs of 'disparaging... those who care about our environment.'

Quizzed about the remarks in parliament, he responded that he 'may have said something like that' but was merely defending 'practical' climate change policies as opposed to 'poster-waving activism which doesn't lead to outcomes'.

Greta Thunberg, who rose to global prominence with her 'school strike for climate' protests, has denounced global emissions targets as 'blah, blah, blah' 

Mr Spiers pointed to a recent Extinction Rebellion protest which shut down one of Adelaide's biggest streets after activists glued themselves to the road as part of the problem (file) 

He then pointed to a recent protest in Adelaide in which Extinction Rebellion activists glued themselves to one of its main roads during rush hour as an example.

He added: 'I also... made the point that practical action, adaption and reduction of emissions... in a serious way was much more important than simply posting a video on YouTube or liking a Twitter post or a Facebook post.' 

Australia comes 14th in a global ranking of countries by carbon emissions, both in terms of overall amount emitted per year and emissions per head of population.

Its carbon emissions per capita have reduced near-continuously since 2004, while its overall emissions have plateaued around 400million tons since 2007 - due to the fact that its population has increased by 4million in the same time period.

The country accounts for just over 1 per cent of all C02 emitted per year, and has contributed to roughly the same amount of historic pollution in the atmosphere.

But Australia has never-the-less become a favourite target of climate activists, thanks largely to its near-total reliance on fossil fuels for energy and its large coal mining industry which includes exports to the world's largest polluter - China.

Australia contributes just 1 per cent of global carbon emissions but has become a favourite target of activists thanks to its large coal mining industry (pictured)

Australia currently relies on fossil fuels for some 93 per cent of its yearly energy consumption, with renewables making up the remaining seven per cent.

It is currently the world's second-largest exporter of coal - after Indonesia - earning £30billion annually from the trade and has committed to digging for more.

Politicians in Canberra have also made weak commitments on reducing emissions, pledging to cut just 25 per cent by 2030 - half of the targets set by the UK and US.

The government has also refused to back a pledge by more than two-thirds of world nations to back a target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

And at the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow, it was one of just a handful of nations that refused the opportunity to increase its 2030 climate target.

Australia also lacks a domestic nuclear industry that many other advanced economies are using to cut emissions, though that may change now the country will be given nuclear technology to use in military submarines under the AUKUS pact.

While the government has so-far said nothing about domestic nuclear capacity, campaigners have already started calling for the industry to be developed.