Coalition divide on net-zero emissions.
The federal coalition could be divided on gauging public support for net-zero emissions. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics (general)

Coalition won’t be departing from net zero: Dutton

Kat Wong September 8, 2023

A National Party push to abandon a commitment to net-zero emissions has been rejected by Peter Dutton.

The Nationals will debate net-zero targets at a conference this weekend after members raised concerns over the impact the climate and energy policy would have on rural communities.

The party committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 when the coalition was in government in exchange for a multi-billion dollar regional fund.

But Barnaby Joyce, who was leader of the Nationals when the deal was done, this week labelled the estimated cost of net zero “completely and utterly untenable” and said people were turning against the policy.

“The sentiment towards this renewable nirvana is completely and utterly changing. The battle will be lost over time,” Mr Joyce said. 

However, Mr Dutton maintained there was strong support for net zero.

“I’ve recommitted to it, we won’t be departing from it,” he told ABC Radio on Friday.

“The support – maybe five years ago, or even two years ago that wasn’t there – is strongly there now, particularly with younger people.” 

The opposition leader criticised the NSW Labor government for extending its coal-fired power agreements and pointed to potential alternatives.

He said nuclear technology would be able to “firm up” renewable sources like wind, solar and battery power.

“We would have a credible pathway to our emissions commitments, and that would be in our country’s best interests,” he said.

Asked about the potential to abandon net-zero, Deputy Leader of the Nationals Perin Davey said her party would, “consider all motions through the lens of protecting regional interests first and foremost”.

“With the global market trend moving towards net-zero, we should concentrate on technological solutions like nuclear, instead of taxes and transmission lines.”