Australia needs to join the emissions technology revolution, Liberal Katie Allen says | Australia news
The Victorian Liberal Katie Allen has declared the world is approaching an “iPhone moment” when it comes to new technology lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and Australia needs to be part of the revolution, rather than being a technology “taker”.
Allen has joined fellow Liberal Trent Zimmerman in noting the Coalition’s decision to sign the Paris agreement means Australia has already committed to achieving carbon neutrality by mid-century. But she said the government should not nominate a specific date to hit the milestone until it had developed a policy roadmap.
She told Guardian Australia the smart phone had provided the requisite technological step change in communications, but there was unlikely to be a single technology in energy to drive the transformation to low emissions.
Allen said there was “a bit of an arms race” in low emissions technology, and she nominated batteries, green hydrogen and “new nuclear” – modular reactors – as, potentially, part of the transformation. “I believe we need to be open-minded because it is hard for governments to pick commercialised and scalable winners,” she said.
Asked whether she supported adopting a target of net zero by 2050, Allen said: “I want to see the roadmap, and how we would get there.” She noted the states had already made commitments to carbon neutrality, and that would be an important part of the picture, and said she was “very interested in an economically sound approach”.
Allen’s comments join Zimmerman’s call for the government to look “very seriously” at adopting a net zero target. On Sunday night, fellow moderate Jason Falinski also told Sky News the government needed to set a roadmap for the transformation, and he would like Australia to hit net zero before 2050 “if we can”.
Moderate Liberals have returned to the new political year attempting to build traction internally for the government to increase ambition in climate action. But the push has triggered resistance from Nationals.
At the weekend, Matt Canavan, who quit his cabinet position to support Barnaby Joyce’s failed bid to return to the Nationals leadership, declared a net zero target “fantastical”.
“I haven’t looked at the modelling or costs and benefits of net zero emissions closely because it just seems so fantastical to me,” Canavan told Sky News. “It seems like the kind of things that governments say, because they’re not doing much today but they’d like to try and hoodwink people that they might do something in 30 years’ time.”
The Nationals leader, Michael McCormack – who remains under pressure in his role – told the ABC on Sunday net zero was a bad idea. “I think if you go down that path, what you’re going to do is send factories and industries offshore, send manufacturing jobs offshore,” McCormack said.
“The Liberals and Nationals are – we took our climate policies, we took our emissions reduction policies to the election last May and we were re-elected.
“The Australian people have spoken – we’re not run by international organisations, we’re run by Australians, we’re run by Scott Morrison and we’re run by myself. And we’re run by the Liberals and Nationals.”
On Monday Morrison stepped around the divisions within his own ranks by repeating the same formulation he has given on net zero since Liberals and Nationals began debating the proposition in public.
The prime minister told reporters: “I don’t sign up to anything when I can’t look Australians in the eye and tell them what it costs.
“How many jobs it’s going to cost them. What it means for their industries. What it means for rural and regional parts of the country. Whether it means they’d have to pay higher taxes.
“And none of that information is before me that would enable me to give any such commitment – and I haven’t.”