/ 12 October 2021

Morrison nudges the Nats on climate policy

Forest in shape of lung, (3d render)
Forest in shape of lung, (3d render)

Reducing Australia’s greenhouse emissions is a question of “how, not if,” PM Scott Morrison said yesterday. And it’s up to the government to ensure “communities right across rural and regional Australia can look at this change and understand that there are big opportunities and there is a way through.” He was addressing the media, but Morrison had 20 people in mind when he spoke those words yesterday: Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and the federal Nationals’ party room.

Well, Nationals’ MPs and senators met yesterday to discuss endorsing a more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction plan and the longer-term target of net zero emissions by 2050. And #itscomplicated… Time is running out for the Coalition to settle its climate policy with the United Nations’ COP26 summit on climate change kicking off in early November. A decision on the PM’s attendance remains unmade. Reports this morning say a majority of Nats back targets that step things up, but they want compensation for industries adversely affected by the policy change and clean energy investments to be spent in the regions. On coughing up some mega-bucks, Morrison’s “how, not if” seems valid for that question too…

The actual proposal to change the emissions targets and provide for compensation/investment will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting tomorrow. And Joyce says he’s then in for a tough discussion with his colleagues. “Ultimately, this will be taken to the Nationals party room in one of the most difficult meetings we’ll ever have in my political history,” he said on the weekend. That’s likely to take place next Sunday, reports say. And as Morrison waits for his call from the Queen, he can take heart that he’s not the only leader having a hard time getting a policy settled ahead of Glasgow. US President Joe Biden’s plans to reduce emissions – said to be the most ambitious America has seen – have been held up by political wrangling between his moderate and progressive Democratic colleagues. One UN climate adviser said the US risks “coming to Glasgow with some fine words” but “not much else”.

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