Tony Abbott and Stephen Harper
© Cole Burston / Getty
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, right, in Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said climate change is not the 'most important problem the world faces.'
The political leaders of Canada and Australia declared on Monday they won't take any action to battle climate change that harms their national economies and threatens jobs.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, made the statements following a meeting on Parliament Hill.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper both say there is no need for carbon pricing to combat climate change.

Abbott, whose Liberal party came to power last fall on a conservative platform, publicly praised Harper for being an "exemplar" of "centre-right leadership" in the world.

Abbott's government has come under criticism for its plan to cancel Australia's carbon tax, while Harper has been criticized for failing to introduce regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada's oil and gas sector.

Later this week, Abbott meets with U.S. President Barack Obama, who has vowed to make global warming a political priority and whose administration is proposing a 30-per-cent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030.

At a Monday news conference, Harper and Abbott both said they welcomed Obama's plan. Abbott said he plans to take similar action, and Harper boasted that Canada is already ahead of the U.S. in imposing controls on the "electricity sector."

But both leaders stressed that they won't be pushed into taking steps on climate change they deem unwise.

"It's not that we don't seek to deal with climate change," said Harper. "But we seek to deal with it in a way that will protect and enhance our ability to create jobs and growth. Not destroy jobs and growth in our countries."

Harper said that no country is going to undertake actions on climate change - "no matter what they say" - that will "deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country.

"We are just a little more frank about that."

Abbott said climate change is a "significant problem" but he said it is not the "most important problem the world faces.

"We should do what we reasonably can to limit emissions and avoid climate change, man-made climate change," said Abbott.

"But we shouldn't clobber the economy. That's why I've always been against a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme - because it harms our economy without necessarily helping the environment."

Abbott's two-day trip to Ottawa was his first since becoming prime minister and it quickly became evident he is on the same political page as Harper. They are both conservative politicians who espouse the need to balance the budget, cut taxes, and focus on international trade.

Just as Harper once turned to former Australian prime John Howard for political guidance, Abbott is now turning to his Canadian counterpart as a model.

He recalled how he met Harper in late 2005, just before the federal election that brought Harper to power.

"You were an opposition leader not expected to win an election. But you certainly impressed me that day. And you've impressed not only Canadians but a generally admiring world in the months and years since that time."

"I'm happy to call you an exemplar of centre-right leadership - much for us to learn, much for me to learn from the work you've done."

Harper paid tribute to Abbott for the work he has done as chair of the G20, which will hold a meeting in November in Australia.

"You've used this international platform to encourage our counterparts in the major economies and beyond to boost economic growth, to lower taxes when possible and to eliminate harmful ones, most notably the job-killing carbon tax," said Harper.