Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud says it is "immature" to dismiss technology's potential to allow Australia to slash emissions while protecting traditional industries, as he declared most of his colleagues were supportive of the "aspiration" of decarbonising the economy.
Mr Littleproud is one of a small number of Nationals who have been briefed on the net zero roadmap which the government plans to unveil ahead of the Glasgow climate summit.
The Nationals are refusing to greenlight a net-zero-by-2050 commitment unless they can be convinced regional Australia won't be worse off.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has this week moved to reassure the Nationals that the manufacturing and resources sectors would be shielded amid the transition, largely thanks to technological advancements and the use of carbon offsets.
That position runs counter to the scientific advice, which warns of the urgent need to phase out the use of fossil fuels to limit global warming.
In an interview with ACM, Mr Littleproud hit back at critics of the technology-centric approach to climate action which will underpin the government's net zero roadmap.
"I think it's an immature view to say that technology cannot reduce emissions," he said.
"Technology will reduce emissions. That statement [that it won't] doesn't bear any currency whatsoever. It is important that people understand that technology is the way to reduce emissions to help us meet our international commitments.
"To think otherwise is really quite regressive in your thinking."
Mr Littleproud would not divulge details of the roadmap or reveal his personal position on the issue, but said he had been comforted by Prime Minister Scott Morrison's assurance that regional Australia would not be left to foot the bill.
The Nationals are due to meet in Canberra on Sunday afternoon to discuss the plan.
While Mr Littleproud and the other members of the Nationals' leadership team have been briefed multiple times on the roadmap and the modelling which underpins it, Sunday's meeting will mark the first time many of his colleagues have had the opportunity to digest and debate it.
Nationals backbenchers are likely to want to question Mr Taylor when the Coalition party room meets early next week. The Nationals have not ruled out the option of a second meeting to confirm their position, meaning the timing of the roadmap announcement - should a deal be struck - remains unclear.
A small group of Nationals, including Queensland senator Matt Canavan, have effectively ruled out supporting a net zero target even before seeing the roadmap.
But Mr Littleproud said the "vast" majority of MPs and senators in the 21-member party room were pragmatic and would consider the roadmap's contents before deciding a position.
He said different views would be respected, but the party would ultimately need to reach a consensus position, and he believed the majority of his colleagues supported the "aspiration" of decarbonising the economy.
But he said they wanted clarity on how it could be achieved, so they could tell their constituents, "hand on heart ... we can get there and it won't cost you too much".
"My aspirational view is to try and achieve reductions in carbon emissions, and if that's to net zero by 2050 and that can be achieved ... I'm all for that," he said.
"I think that's the majority view within the party room - they want to be able to achieve that."
"But how do we do that responsibly, and with currency? There are a lot of platitudes going around about signing up to it [net zero], but not a lot of people can tell you how you are going to get there.
"That is what we really want to be able to do, to have that conversation with our constituents."
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