While the federal Nationals remain divided over whether to support a target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, their West Australian colleagues have nailed their colours to the mast and passed a formal motion in favour.

Key points:

  • The motion was carried with the caveat that affected sectors must get support to transition
  • WA Nationals leader Mia Davies says the change won’t be easy, but could lead to new opportunities
  • The federal Nationals remain divided on the concept of net zero

WA Nationals leader Mia Davies said her party was a “science-based organisation” and she believed it was important to be part of the net zero conversation.

“The talk of the town at the moment is our future in terms of hydrogen,” she told the WA Country Hour.

“We have an energy mix that includes gas and we’re transitioning towards a significant amount of renewables.

“[In] agriculture, the mining sector, other industry industries that will be impacted, there may also be opportunity.

“That’s the bit that I do not want us to be locked out of — the discussion on how we can help achieve some of these targets but also maybe create new industries and create opportunities for existing ones.”

The WA Nationals’ vote comes as pressure grows for their federal colleagues to agree to a net zero emissions target by 2050 ahead of a global climate summit in Glasgow at the end of the month.

A young man in a green jumper speaks into a microphone.

The net zero motion was put forward by the Young Nationals, led by Tay Alers and the Geraldton branch.(Supplied: Mia Davies)

Motion heavily amended

The motion carried at this weekend’s WA Nationals state conference was a noticeably amended version of the original submitted by the Young Nationals and Geraldton branches.

The original motion read:

“That this state convention of the Nationals WA commits to introducing legislation with clear targets, incentives and disincentives to ensure WA becomes a world leader in negative emissions by 2050 in such a way that ensures improved wellbeing and economic livelihoods across regional WA; and instructs the president to relay this position to affiliate parties accordingly.”

A room full of politicians.

WA Nationals Leader Mia Davies addressing the party’s 2021 State Conference in Northam, WA.(Supplied: The Natonals WA)

The carried motion read:

“That the Nationals WA support the adoption of a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050 with clear support for economies and sectors that need assistance to transition.”

“I think [the final motion] acknowledges that there are concerns in particular sectors of the community that may feel that they will be the ones that bear the weight or the brunt of us achieving these outcomes,” Ms Davies said.

Matt Canavan, wearing a dark suit.

Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan says he is “dead set” against the net zero target.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Senator’s stance ‘disappointing’

The WA Nationals’ net zero stance stands in stark contrast to the position of Nationals Senator Matt Canavan.

He recently tweeted that he was “dead set against net zero emissions”.

“Just look at the disaster the UK is living through,” he wrote.

“They’re switching off their industry to keep their lights on and they’re struggling to feed themselves.

Ms Davies said the senator’s position was “disappointing”.

“I’m dismayed that we seem to think that we need to opt out, or that someone else is going to come up with the solutions when we are a part of the leadership of the state and the nation,” she said.

“So that’s disappointing to me, that we see members not wanting to engage in this global conversation.

The Victorian branch of the Nationals, as well as the National Farmers Federation and the Minerals Council of Australia, have backed the concept of net zero by 2050.

‘There will be pain’, but WA Nationals back net zero carbon target
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