Coalition mulls net zero 2050 climate plan

Matt CoughlanAAP
The prime minister is under intense pressure to take a climate action commitment to COP26.
Camera IconThe prime minister is under intense pressure to take a climate action commitment to COP26. Credit: AAP

Scott Morrison is inching closer to committing to a 2050 net zero carbon emissions target despite ongoing tensions within the coalition.

The prime minister is expected to take the goal to a major global climate change conference in Glasgow which starts in less than two weeks.

But the Nationals are yet to back the technology road map despite meeting to discuss it for the second time in as many days on Monday.

Mr Morrison also briefed Liberals about the plan but insists the decision will be made at the highest level of government.

"In cabinet, that's where it will be made and that's where these decisions are made, all members of the government understand that," he told parliament.

The prime minister declared regions could be the biggest beneficiaries of moving to a clean energy economy.

But he also acknowledged there would be negative consequences for rural and regional areas.

The government is not expected to raise its 2030 target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels.

Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud believes most of his colleagues are working towards a net zero solution provided protections for regional Australia are guaranteed.

He believes the lead up to COP26 is the chance for the climate wars which have plagued Australian politics to be buried.

"Zealots from both sides really just need to bugger off," he told the ABC.

"Just let the adults now over the coming week or so resolve this, get a pathway and look everyone in the eye about how we're going to do it."

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said unless the 2050 climate target was legislated it could not be taken seriously.

"We have a government and a nation being hostage to a few people in the National Party," he told reporters.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce denied holding the government to ransom and downplayed reports the junior coalition partner was seeking $20 billion in regional compensation.

Nationals and Liberal backbenchers embarked on a conga line of Sky News interviews after meetings in Canberra on Monday.

Moderate Liberal MP Jason Falinski said the prime minister would listen to views at Tuesday's joint coalition partyroom meeting.

"A view of the room will emerge and the prime minister will take that to cabinet which ultimately has to make a decision about the plan and how and if we can get to net zero by 2050," he said.

"Following today's meeting of Liberal MPs, I'm more confident that will be the outcome."

Staunch net zero 2050 opponent and Nationals senator Matt Canavan said he detected a desire for more detail among his colleagues.

"We seem to being asked to marry a girl we haven't met. This seems to be an arranged marriage," he said.

The Queenslander suggested Australia was caving to pressure from US President Joe Biden.

"When did we become the 51st state of the US?"

Victorian Nationals MP Darren Chester said he would not predict where his party would land but backed the target.

"We need a credible position on climate change," he said.

"I believe the net zero position is where the whole world is heading right now."

Liberal senator James Paterson said it would ultimately be a cabinet decision based on agreement of Liberal and Nationals ministers.

Senator Paterson said the Nationals were an important but proportional part of the coalition.

"They don't dictate and shouldn't dictate policy against the rest of the government," he said.

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