Barnaby Joyce Says 4 Hours Isn’t Enough Time To Commit To Net Zero Despite Having Years To Do It

The Coalition has been in power for eight years now.

barnaby joyce climate change photo

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With less than two weeks before the COP 26 United Nations Climate Change Conference kicks off in Glasgow, the Coalition is still yet to actually commit to net-zero — and now the Nationals are claiming there’s not enough time.

The Nationals were given a first look at the Liberals’ plan for officially committing to net zero by 2050 on Sunday afternoon in a presentation by Energy Minister Angus Taylor. But after four hours of deliberation, the Nationals failed to reach an agreement on the matter.

“You’re not gonna do that on four hours on a Sunday night,” Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said on Sunday evening.

Joyce isn’t wrong in asserting that four hours isn’t enough time to make an educated decision on such an important issue like climate change. However, he is wrong in asserting that the Nationals have only had four hours to do so.

The LNP Coalition has been in government since 2013. Since then, we’ve seen Sweden commit to an even more ambitious target of net-zero by 2045 way back in 2017, with our friends in New Zealand and the United Kingdom legally flagging their commitment to 2050 two years later in 2019.

Earlier this year, with the release of the IPCC report, it became even more undeniably clear than ever that we are already feeling the impacts of climate change, and it will only continue to get worse unless we take immediate — and significant — climate action.

Not to mention, Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted that the government would be working towards a formal net-zero target way back in February. So make no mistake here, the Nationals were well aware that this plan would be coming.

Net-Zero Is Not New, Nats

Sunday’s plan may have been the first time the Nationals were officially presented with a document, but it’s not like the idea of agreeing to net-zero by 2050 was randomly thrust upon them like some sort of late night “we need to talk” text.

Yet that’s how the Nationals are framing it, with Deputy Nationals leader David Littleproud claiming that a commitment in such a short amount of time would be “reckless.”

“We’re going to come back together again today, and there’s a lot of questions. And you’ve got to understand when something like this is presented, obviously, for the first time, you need to sleep on it,” he told 2GB on Monday.

Littleproud’s comments come after he virtually ruled out any chance of a more ambitious target of 2030. “The only details that have been presented to the National Party is for net zero by 2050,” Littleproud said, according to the ABC. “And I think we need the time, air and space to be able to do that in a constructive manner, to get a result on that. Any other proposals would have to be very clearly defined to us, before we gave that any consideration.”

As Shadow Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen pointed out, the Nationals have had ample time to research and agree to net-zero. “Eight years in office, 21 energy policies, weeks before the most important climate change conference we’ve seen and the government doesn’t know what its policy is,” Bowen said on Twitter. “They have been engaged in eight years of denial and delay.

“Every Australian is entitled to be frustrated … and rural and regional Australians have a particular right to be angry, because rural and regional Australia will pay the price for unchecked climate change.”

While it’s worth noting that Labor is yet to outline its own plan for a net-zero commitment, Bowen asserts that this is because the part wants to “give the government a chance to get this right… and see if we can give them bipartisan support.”

The Nationals will continue to discuss the target in meetings today, but with Barnaby Joyce already asserting that Australia’s actions will have “no effect” on the climate but will negatively impact regional economies, it’s probably not worth holding your breath waiting for a commitment.

Pressure for the Nationals to commit to the net-zero plan continues to grow after Prime Minister Scott Morrison finally announced that he will attend COP 26 last week.