Australia may follow New Zealand in excluding the agriculture sector in its efforts to achieve a net-zero emissions target by 2050.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison appears to be leaning towards committing to the 2050 target through technology rather than taxation.
But his coalition deputy and Nationals leader Michael McCormack says while the country must do its “international bit”, regional Australia must not be disproportionately affected by such a target.
Asked on Sky News whether that would mean excluding agriculture from the target, Mr McCormack said: “That could well be one of the options.”
But he said 2050 is a long way off and the country faces huge challenges in 2021.
“We are not worried, or I’m certainly not worried, about what might happen in 30 years’ time,” he said.
“The concentration at the moment, indeed for me, for the National party and indeed for regional Australia is getting back on our feet after what’s been a very challenging year.”
He said regional Australia has encountered drought, bushfires, flood and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is no way we are going to whack regional Australia, hurt regional Australia in any way shape or form just to get a target for climate in 2050,” Mr McCormack said.
“We are not going to hurt those wonderful people that put food on our table.”
But deputy Labor leader Richard Marles says the Paris agreement requires carbon neutrality right across the nation.
“That’s the commitment we have made. We didn’t hear that from the government this week,” Mr Marles told ABC’s Insiders program.
“I’m not sure what we heard from the prime minister, it might have been a hope, an aspiration … but what we did not hear is commitment.”