Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack flags excluding agriculture from 2050 climate target | Ralph-Lauren

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Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the Government might consider excluding agriculture from future long-term climate change targets.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared his goal is to reach net zero emissions “as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050”, although he has not committed to it.

Mr McCormack said Australia could follow New Zealand’s lead in exempting emissions from the agriculture sector.

“New Zealand, well yes they’ve said that 2050 is a target but they’ve also had that caveat with their agriculture.

“Well if that’s what it takes, well that’s what it takes, but we’re not going to hurt regional Australia, we’re not going to hurt those wonderful people who’ve put food on our table.”

New Zealand has set a 2050 target of reaching net zero emissions “of all greenhouse gases other than biogenic methane”.

McCormack ‘not worried about what might happen in 30 years’

Mr McCormack said he did not want to see regional areas disproportionately affected by Australia’s climate change response but argued his immediate focus was on other issues.

“There are huge challenges in 2021 and we’re not worried, well 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.”

A man wearing a dark suit talks to reporters.
Richard Marles said Australia needed to reach carbon neutrality.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Asked whether agriculture should be exempted from a potential 2050 target, Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said Australia needed to reach carbon neutrality “across the economy”.

“That’s what Paris requires and that’s the commitment that we have made,” he told the ABC’s Insiders program.

“I’m not sure what he heard from the Prime Minister, it might have been a hope, an aspiration, ‘inching’ I think is the word, but what we did not hear was a commitment.”

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