Carbon tax the one thing Aussies won’t cop in climate battle
Australians may have changed their tune on the need for a net-zero target but they will not cop a return to a carbon tax, Energy Minister Angus Taylor says.
Speaking at a CEDA pathways to net-zero event, Mr Taylor was asked if a return to carbon pricing was inevitable as we hurdle towards a lower emissions future.
But Mr Taylor reiterated the government would stick to its “technology, not taxes” mantra to reduce emissions.
“The Australian public has been very clear on this at multiple elections. And in between, and that they, they don’t want to see the cost of energy going up in this country,” he told the business forum on Tuesday.
The energy and emissions reduction minister also doubled down on criticism of the Business Council of Australia, who last week urged the government to fall in line with its global partners and slash emissions by up to 50 per cent by 2030.
Mr Taylor claimed such a cut could result in a backdoor carbon tax on business.
“Now there’s a lot of people who want to add costs. There’s an obsession in this, that we must add cost, we must impose costs on bad activity or bad industries, we’re not interested in that,” he told CEDA.
“We like carrots, not sticks because this stick has to be paid for by middle Australia.
“There‘s lots of backdoor ideas to get a carbon tax up but not, it’s not where we’re going.”
As the government inches closer to an agreement with the Nationals on a net-zero target, Mr Taylor called for the corporate sector to match the Commonwealth’s transparency with their emissions data.
“We’re already seeing companies around Australia and around the world … making commitments. Good on them,” he said.
“We are extremely accountable as a government. There is no government in the world . in the long time period over which we’ve provided data on our emissions every quarter.
“It’s time for the corporate sector to step up and provide a similar level of transparency and accountability.”
Making it clear there was a distinction between net zero and zero emissions, Mr Taylor indicated any commitment would not spell the end to “traditional industries”.
“We don’t want to see those industries being badly damaged and they don’t need to be, they do need to adapt, there’s no question about that,” he said.
“But a sensible net-zero goal with a sensible net-zero pathway, creates a pathway for our resources industry, our heavy industry and our agriculture, we as a government are absolutely committed to that.”
It comes as the Queensland parliament voted to formalise its commitment to a net-zero missions target, badgering Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the process.
The Sunshine state is just the latest in a number of domestic and international actors pressuring the federal government to make a commitment ahead of next month’s international Cop26 summit in Glasgow.
Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest on Tuesday also publicly called for the prime minister to attend the climate summit.
“Whenever I see our prime minister, or have the privilege of speaking to him, I do urge him to attend Cop26,” he told Sky News.
“I don’t think we’re that far away from declaring carbon neutrality by 2050 … because the economy is so important to every single Australian and if you want to grow our economy, then you back carbon neutrality by 2050.
“That is where the really big investments and the huge number of jobs are all going to be made.”
Mr Morrison has yet to confirm his government’s pathway to net-zero or if he will attend the climate summit.