Joyce calls for caution on net zero target

Barnaby Joyce won't back a 2050 net zero emissions target without power reliability guarantees.
Barnaby Joyce won't back a 2050 net zero emissions target without power reliability guarantees.

Barnaby Joyce has warned the Nationals will not back a 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions target without power reliability guarantees.

The deputy prime minister argues the United Kingdom's gas crisis, which has sent prices skyrocketing and triggered a carbon dioxide shortage, shows the need to be cautious on climate policy.

Carbon dioxide is used for such things as manufacturing and extending the life of packaged fruit and vegetables.

"I'm going to be really careful that we don't have the 1.5 million people in the UK who recently have lost their provider," Mr Joyce told reporters in Tamworth.

"I'm not going to support a process that leads to 850,000 people two nights ago losing their energy provider."

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg acknowledged a split within the coalition on climate change ambition after he made the economic case for a net zero target.

Mr Frydenberg said not shifting to cleaner power sources could lead to reduced capital markets access, which could affect interest rates and the viability of major projects.

"Australia has a lot at stake," he told the Australian Industry Group.

"We cannot run the risk that markets falsely assume we are not transitioning in line with the rest of the world."

Labor's climate change spokesman Chris Bowen described the speech as a pathetic con job from someone with "net zero credibility" on climate action.

"Josh Frydenberg declaring that climate change is bad is like the captain of the Titanic deciding that icebergs are bad," he told reporters.

Mr Bowen said Mr Joyce had engaged in normal Liberal-National scaremongering about cleaner energy, sparking a counterattack from the Nationals leader.

Labor has committed to spending $20 billion on rewiring the electricity grid and $200 million on community batteries if it wins the next election.

The government is adamant its technology roadmap will guide $20 billion in funding decisions which will lead to lower carbon emissions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists the government has made no commitments despite mounting expectation the target will be locked ahead of a major conference in November.

Australia has become increasingly isolated over its refusal to adopt a 2050 net zero emissions goal.

While an increasing number of moderate Liberals have urged the prime minister to adopt the target, Nationals and other conservative MPs oppose the move.

Australian Associated Press