Yesterday, the Nationals Party announced they were set to back the target of net zero emissions by 2050. The language here is important – the commitment is still “in principle”, which means a firm commitment will only be made once the party has seen the final position taken by Cabinet. It does seem likely though, that the Prime Minister will have the Coalition’s blessing to take “net zero” to the Glasgow Climate Conference.
But first, what is the Glasgow Conference?
The Glasgow Conference, also known as the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, will see leaders from around the world come together to discuss their plans to tackle climate change. It is seen as the most important meeting of world leaders on climate change since the ratification of the Paris Agreement in 2015. The meeting is from 31 October to 12 November.
After a lot of uncertainty surrounding whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison would be attending, Morrison confirmed his attendance earlier this month.
Quickly, what is the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty – signatories to the Paris Agreement agreed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, global emissions need to halve by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, according to the United Nations.
Where is Australia at with net zero?
States and territories have set individual net zero emissions targets. Recently, Tasmania announced it is set to legislate a net zero carbon emissions target from 2030. The NSW Government has also recently committed to a new climate target of reducing NSW’s emissions by 50% by 2030, in a decision supported by both the Liberals and Nationals. All states and territories in Australia have committed to net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.
Federally, the Australian Government hasn’t set a net zero target for 2050. Over the past week, senior Nationals have threatened to quit Cabinet if their demands are not met for the target. When Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce held a press conference yesterday, he announced his party’s support for net zero would be contingent on specific concessions, rumoured to be around protection for rural and regional Australia through “a socio-economic safety valve”. While the precise list of demands has not been made public (with Barnaby Joyce confirming it will remain private), it is expected these demands will be met, and the Prime Minister will attend the Glasgow Conference with a plan for Australia to reach net zero by 2050.