Australian conservative coalition looks at downplaying internal debates over climate policy

Australian conservative coalition looks at downplaying internal debates over climate policy

On April 10, 2022, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. LUKAS COCH SYDNEY - Australia's ruling conservative coalition on Wednesday looked at downplaying internal debates over climate policy ahead of a national election to be held on May 21 after signs of division re-emerged over the government's emission reduction targets.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was forced to back the government's emission targets after a member of the junior coalition partner claimed the global push toward net zero was sort of dead. National Party Senator Matt Canavan, a vocal opponent of emission targets, has also called for more coal-fired power stations, reigniting a row within the coalition over climate policy just weeks after the election.

Everybody knows that Matt hasn't been supportive of the net zero position that is not his party's position, that's not the coalition's position and it is not the government's position, Morrison told reporters on Wednesday. In October, Australia, the world's top coal and major gas exporter, adopted a target to reach net zero emissions by 2050, but Morrison says he won't legislate the goal.

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Morrison had to confirm his Liberal-National Party coalition's position on emissions on Tuesday after Colin Boyce, a Liberal party candidate in resource-rich Queensland, said there was wiggle room in Australia's net-zero target.

Morrison needs the support of voters in coal and gas-producing regions, many of whom oppose action on climate change, even though the wider Australian population backs efforts to slash carbon emissions.

Some coalition candidates in regional seats are talking about climate action, but others in urban areas are talking up their climate credentials because they face strong challenges from independents who support lower emissions targets.

The opposition Labor party is ahead of the coalition, according to polls, although Morrison has extended his lead as the country's preferred leader.

Labor said the coalition was in open warfare about emissions policy.

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Shadow Resources Minister Murray Watt told ABC television that the war had erupted after apparently putting it to bed over the last few months.