PM has mandate on net zero decision: Joyce

The prime minister is seeking coalition backing to take a 2050 target to the COP26 climate talks.
The prime minister is seeking coalition backing to take a 2050 target to the COP26 climate talks.

Barnaby Joyce has conceded Scott Morrison will make the final call on committing to a 2050 net zero carbon emissions target as coalition climate divisions continue.

The Nationals leader said his party would not bully or coerce the prime minister, conceding it was his "prerogative" to make the decision.

"He has his own mandate and he has his own capacity," he told reporters in Canberra.

"That is absolutely and utterly his own right."

The contentious issue was not mentioned when Mr Morrison and Mr Joyce addressed a meeting of coalition MPs in Canberra on Tuesday.

Some Nationals remain staunchly opposed to the 2050 target, while senior Liberal cabinet ministers are making the case to sign up.

Mr Morrison has linked Australia's alliances to the climate target he wants to take to a United Nations conference which starts in less than two weeks.

He indicated cabinet, which is due to meet on Wednesday, will make the final call rather than a vote of MPs because the pledge will not be legislated.

The prime minister acknowledged the global energy transition would have difficult repercussions for regional Australia.

"But they also present significant opportunities," he told parliament.

"The plans the government is considering will ensure that we can deal with both the costs and the benefits because we understand there are impacts."

Mr Joyce indicated the government had commodity price modelling pointing to an negative impact on demand for Australia's coal.

"We will make sure that the prime minister ... has a response from us by the end of this week as to what we see as the pertinent issues," he said.

"This is not grandstanding, this is not ransom ... this is making sure that we do our job and we will continue to do our job."

Energy Minister Angus Taylor stressed working with the United States and United Kingdom was crucial as the region faced its most uncertain security situation in years.

"Those alliances really matter. That means working together on other issues like emissions reduction is important," he told 4BC radio.

"But we'll always do it in a way which is right for our regions, our traditional industries. We're not going to hit our exports with policies that are going to hurt them."

Resources Minister Keith Pitt - a Nationals MP not in cabinet - defended how long it was taking for his colleagues to reach a decision on a 2050 net zero target.

"Right now, it's a no, as the deputy prime minister has said, but those discussions are ongoing," he told ABC radio.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan warned there would be ugly consequences if Mr Morrison forged ahead with a net zero target.

Ahead of the joint partyroom meeting, Senator Canavan accused the prime minister of "gaslighting" coalition MPs through media reports suggesting a net zero decision had been made.

The government has ruled out lifting its 2030 emissions target from a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels.

But updated projections for that date are expected to be released this week.

Australian Associated Press