“That will require the agreement of the Nationals. That agreement has not been reached or sought,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.
A rift in the government over climate change has widened after a senior National claimed the party was not consulted over Scott Morrison’s “very clear” move to net zero emissions.
The Prime Minister on Sunday said he had been “very clear we are moving towards net zero” but didn’t commit to reaching that target by 2050.
But Resources Minister and Queensland MP Keith Pitt on Thursday said a net zero target was “not the government’s policy” and any plan for change had not been raised with the junior Coalition partner.
Camera IconResources Minister Keith Pitt says the Nationals were not consulted on a move to net zero. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia
“My understanding is very clear: that has not been sought from the Nationals, the question has not been asked. It would require agreement, and that has not been reached.”
Mr Pitt said a decision on a net zero target would be reached through talks with Nationals MPs but poured cold water on the prospect of backing for the proposal.
“I think they’d be unsupportive, but we are yet to have that discussion,” he said.
“We have a discussion, we’re collegiate, we make group decisions. This is an important issue.”
NCA NewsWire has contacted the Prime Minister and Energy Minister Angus Taylor for comment.
The intervention comes after Mr Morrison indicated Australia was shifting to a net zero target during an appearance in the UK, which has pledged to slash emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared with 1990s levels.
Mr Morrison has so far resisted following other G7 leaders in committing to the target by 2050 but has this year softened his language after being isolated in the international community
on the issue.
“I’ve made it very clear that we are moving towards net zero, and I talked about a carbon neutral economy. This is a reality. The new energy economy is coming. It’s a reality,” he said.
The G7, to which Australia is not a signatory, has committed to “ending all unabated coal as soon as possible” and raising $100bn annually to help developing countries slash emissions.
The plan would face fierce opposition in the Nationals party room, and Mr Pitt claimed the “technology is out there right now” to reduce coal’s carbon footprint.
He insisted carbon capture technology, which has been debated in Australia for more than a decade, could not be ruled out.
“We also need to continue to make sure we keep the lights on,” he said.