Liberal MPs back net zero by 2050 target

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Two Liberal MPs say the Morrison government should lock in a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The comment came in a parliamentary inquiry report which recommended against passing bills proposed by independent Zali Steggall.

Ms Steggall has proposed an independent Climate Change Commission be set up and the zero net emissions by 2050 target enshrined in law.

There would also be a mechanism to set emissions budgets and roll out emissions reduction plans.

Liberal committee chair Ted O’Brien said the bills should not be passed as they would steer formal policy decisions away from the parliament and ministers “to an unelected body”.

He warned its work would replicate that already done by federal departments and the legislated target could adversely impact on the economy, specific sectors and jobs.

“It should also be noted that the Australian government has already committed to achieving net zero as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050,” Mr O’Brien wrote in the final report.

However, two of his party room colleagues Trent Zimmerman and Bridget Archer added additional comments, arguing the government should release a strategy ahead of the COP26 climate summit in the UK in November.

“This strategy should include a national commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” they wrote.

“The government should consider the best ways to provide certainty to business and the community in relation to this commitment.”

The pair said there should also be a series of 10-year emissions budgets, with five-yearly reviews.

“The bills highlight the value of regularising many of these important steps in policy development to reduce emissions and achieve net zero emissions,” they said.

“But it is not the only path way for achieving Australia’s climate change targets and goals.”

Ms Steggall said she was disappointed but not surprised by the government’s response to her bills, noting 99.9 per cent of the 6500 submissions were supportive.

“MPs like Trent Zimmerman should be embarrassed by their own government’s failure to act on climate change,” she said.

“They are looking for excuses not to support the approach proposed in the bills and the recommendations, suggesting Australia should not be advised by independent experts when Australia has for the last 16 months followed expert advice at every turn in its response to COVID.”

She said the government should at least allow parliamentary debate on the bills and get independent advice on the emissions target, as well as the cost of climate impacts across the economy.

Peak business groups have backed the concept of legislating a target.

The Business Council of Australia said the bills would enable a planned and coordinated transition to net zero emissions.

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