CANBERRA, AAP – The Nationals have demanded regional Australia be “respected” on climate policy as federal cabinet meets to sign off on a plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Angus Taylor are putting the finishing touches to a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and potentially a more ambitious medium-term target, while placating the Nationals over regional jobs and power prices.
Mr Morrison has previously said the government has a “preference” to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, but there is pressure ahead of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow to firm up Australia’s action and targets.
The Nationals, long adamant about the need for concessions for the regions and resources sector, are set to thrash out their position at a weekend partyroom meeting.
Cabinet minister Bridget McKenzie insists the Nationals be “respected as the second party of government” in the negotiations.
She said the Nationals had previously stood up to climate policies which would have delivered “bad outcomes” for Australia.
“This actual debate isn’t about climate change, it’s about regions,” she told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“There is no deal until it’s right for the regions.”
Environment Minister Sussan Ley stressed the opportunities getting to net zero provided for regional Australia.
“I don’t get a sense of feeling worried or threatened around me and I feel that I know my communities very well,” she said.
“This is a good discussion to be having because it thrashes out the perspectives from every single point of view and of course I will bring mine.
“I want us to be heading to net zero and doing it with confidence and actually seizing the opportunities that it provides.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told a business forum on Wednesday capital markets were “pricing in a net zero world that is affecting everything”.
“It is important that we continue to reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.
“We will have more to say about that in coming days and weeks as we work through internally some of the those issues with respect to net zero by 2050 ahead of the Glasgow meeting.”
The government currently has a target of cutting emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent below 2005 levels.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said net zero by 2050 was a “no-brainer”, with many jobs to be found in manufacturing and renewable energy.
Meanwhile, the Climate Council has warned political inertia on climate could cost around 70,000 jobs across NSW and Queensland if the climate wars don’t end.
It modelled expectations for Australia’s resources exports, particularly coal, should G7 nations, China and South Korea follow the European Union’s plan to tax energy-intensive imports.
The European Union intends to bring in a carbon border adjustment mechanism applying to imports from countries without a carbon price from 2023.
This would lead Australian exporters to pay more to sell into the EU compared with nations that have a price on carbon.