News Politics Australian Politics Methane target dumped for net-zero support

Methane target dumped for net-zero support

covid death Barnaby Joyce
Barnaby Joyce has apologised after a bombshell claim that Australians aren't dying of COVID. Photo: AAP
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Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has confirmed methane emission reduction targets were excluded from net-zero by 2050 plans in order for the Nationals to back the government policy.

Mr Joyce labelled attempts to reduce methane emissions as crippling for agricultural industries.

While the US and Europe will push attempts for a 30 per cent reduction in methane emissions by the end of the decade at this coming weekend’s Glasgow climate summit, Australia won’t back the proposal at the global meeting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will fly out for G20 talks on Thursday night – leaving Mr Joyce as acting PM. Mr Morrison will then head to the Glasgow summit, which starts on Sunday, as he seeks to mitigate criticism Australia isn’t pulling its weight on climate policy.

“What that would spell for the Australian beef industry, for the feed-lot industry, for the dairy industry, would be disaster,” Mr Joyce said on Thursday.

“The Nats were absolutely implicit that no deal would go forward that we would support unless it was absolutely categorically ruled out, and we got that.”

Mr Joyce said the only way to reach a 30 per cent methane reduction target would be for farmers to shoot their own cattle, indicating the target would not be possible.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the government would look to reduce methane emissions by 80 per cent with new technologies at a future point in time.

“There has been some talk about some nations making short-term pledges in relation to methane, Australia is not pursuing that,” Senator Birmingham told Sky News.

“It would particularly impact on the agricultural sector and we don’t want to impose a short-term burden.”

The full details of the last-minute deal struck with the Nationals in exchange for its support for a net zero target remain unclear.

One element of the agreement was the return of Resources Minister Keith Pitt, who had been a vocal net zero critic, to cabinet.

“The government has put forward a policy position. I support their position, as you would expect,” Mr Pitt told the ABC.

When asked whether Australians were entitled to see full details of the Nationals deal, Mr Pitt said: “Those are arrangements between the leaders of the two political parties.”

Mr Joyce said the agreement was a confidential cabinet document.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese hit out at Mr Joyce’s climate change stance.

“His contribution to debate is embarrassing” he said.

“Australia needs to take action on climate change and needs a government that’s prepared to do it.”

The opposition is waiting until after Glasgow to release its own 2030 emissions reduction target. It has signalled policies to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles and rewire the nation to ensure more renewable energy can enter the system.