Clive Palmer has thrown into chaos Tony Abbott's plan to abolish the carbon tax, demanding the Prime Minister instead create an emissions trading scheme that would swing into action when Australia's major trading partners adopt similar measures.
A day before Mr Palmer sits down with Mr Abbott to discuss the federal budget and the government's signature pledge to repeal the carbon tax, the erratic Palmer United Party leader was joined by former US vice-president Al Gore to announce his position on a suite of climate change legislation.
Mr Palmer said his trio of senators would move to enshrine in law a guarantee that energy producers pass on to households the benefits of repealing the carbon tax, while they would also move to block the government's plans to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and potentially wind back the Renewable Energy Target, which mandates 41,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity be produced by large clean energy sources by 2020.
The abolition of the independent Climate Change Authority would also be opposed.
Mr Palmer said his party would move to legislate an emissions trading scheme with a starting price of zero dollars.
''The government and the parliament of the day have the ability to set the financial parameters of the [emissions trading] scheme based on the action of our leading trading partners such as China, the United States, the European Union, Japan and Korea,'' he said.
In a later interview on ABC's Lateline, Mr Palmer made clear that repeal of the carbon tax was contingent on energy producers refunding to consumers the benefits of the repeal of the tax.
But it would not be contingent on the other measures Mr Palmer proposed on Wednesday night, such as the proposed emissions trading legislation.
The proposal to introduce the ETS in the Senate would be attached to the bill that would repeal the Climate Change Authority and the PUP would attempt to have that passed by the Senate.
"We want a scheme that is conditional upon other countries and doesn't become operable until those countries do that, introduce a similar measure,'' he said.
Mr Palmer also said his party had not adopted a final position on whether to oppose or support the abolition of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
And the PUP leader said he had been approached by Mr Gore's representatives in Australia ahead of the former US vice president's visit to Australia about linking up in Canberra ahead of Wednesday's joint press conference.
The enigmatic mining magnate defended his previous doubts about pricing carbon and his questioning of the science behind anthropogenic global warming.
"All of us can change our view given more information and Al Gore was good enough to come to Canberra to talk to me and discuss issues with me and he took the challenges I gave him on a number of things and I'm satisfied it is a matter of great concern,'' he said.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government was willing to provide additional guarantees that households would receive the savings from the repeal of the tax and that it would work with Mr Palmer on further amendments.
''We are happy to go further and in fact we have met with the ACCC today to discuss options and we will be happy for the PM and Mr Palmer to agree on any further options which may be necessary,'' he said.
However Mr Hunt said an emissions trading scheme "is not our policy but we have not seen the amendments and the PM will be speaking with Mr Palmer tomorrow [Thursday]".
"We do however want to see any amendments and if they appear we will consider them. It has not been and it is not our policy and that remains the position of the government."
Mr Hunt would not be drawn on whether the government's oppositon to an emissions trading scheme was a "deal breaker".
Mr Palmer said his discussions with Mr Gore had helped him reconsider the ''important issues facing Australians and the rest of the world''.
The PUP leader said the government's Direct Action policy was ''a waste of money'' and should not be implemented when Australians faced other unfair budget measures.
He said the establishment of an emissions trading scheme ''cannot be defined as a financial measure, it will have a carbon price [of] zero,'' he said.
Mr Gore, who was brought to Australia by the the Australian Conservation Foundation, said Mr Palmer's announcement was an ''extraordinary moment in which Australia, the US and the rest of the world is finally beginning to confront the climate crisis in a meaningful way''.
A long-time environmental campaigner, Mr Gore cited President Barack Obama's recent moves to reduce emissions in the US and pilot emissions trading schemes in China as evidence the world was acting.
''All of these developments add up to the world moving to solve the climate crisis and that is why it is so significant that Clive Palmer has announced that his party will support the continuation of the renewable energy target, and the continuation of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation,'' he said.
''While I will be disappointed if the immediate price on carbon is removed...I am extremely hopeful that Australia will continue to play a global leadership role on this most pressing issue.''
A spokesman for opposition leader Bill Shorten said it was now time for Mr Abbott to "acknowledge the flaws in his expensive, inefficient and ineffective Direct Action policy".
"Whether or not Clive Palmer's proposal delivers an effective scheme remains to be seen. The ball is in Tony Abbott's court – he's the Prime Minister."
PUP ally Ricky Muir, of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, and other cross-bench senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon are looking closely at the merits of renewable energy.