A senior government minister warned on Tuesday that if Australia fails to adopt a target of nett zero carbon emissions by 2050, tariffs could be imposed on its exports, as the country’s ruling coalition struggles to unite on the issue.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that he hopes to present a strengthened target of nett zero at the United Nations COP26 climate summit this month, but his junior coalition partner has yet to commit to supporting the goal.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan, a member of Morrison’s Liberal Party, said Australia needed to play its part in curbing target emissions or face the risk of tariffs on its goods.
“The risks are real because protectionist forces will come in behind this push and will try and force tariffs up, and that will impact on Australia,” Tehan told Sky News Australia.
In July, the EU said it plans to adopt a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism that would charge EU-based businesses that import carbon-intensive products including cement, iron, steel, aluminium and fertiliser.
The rural-focused National Party, the junior member of the ruling coalition, has warned Morrison that “things will get ugly” if a net zero target is adopted without its support.
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said a decision on whether to support the target was likely this weekend, but has warned the party may reject net zero over concerns about the impact on farming and coal mining.