A Coalition senator has declared the global pursuit of net zero is "dead" just hours after Scott Morrison was forced to clarify his government's commitment to the target.
Nationals senator and long-time net zero opponent Matt Canavan told ABC television that the goal was "all over bar the shouting".
The Queensland senator said he didn't trust any climate targets, including those made by his own government.
The comments are certain to inflame the climate and energy debate, which has erupted in the third week of the federal election campaign amid mixed messages from the Coalition and Labor on key policies.
Senator Canavan comments on ABC's Afternoon Briefing represent the latest cracks in the Coalition over the net zero by 2050 target, which it only agreed to after the Nationals belatedly signed-up last year.
The Coalition's candidate in Gladstone-based seat of Flynn, Colin Boyce, this week claimed the government's strategy was flexible and there was "wiggle room as we proceed in the future".
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and Senator Matt Canavan backed in Mr Boyce's statement.
Moderate Liberals including Trent Zimmerman and Jason Falinksi reportedly moved to reiterate the Coalition's climate commitment, likely fearful of a voter backlash in their Sydney seats if the net zero target isn't set in stone.
Mr Morrison on Tuesday said net zero by 2050 was the "government's absolute policy".
He said Mr Boyce's "wiggle room" statement was in reference to how net zero could be achieved, not the target itself.
But just hours later, Senator Canavan, a former resources minister, said the "net zero thing is sort of dead anyway".
"I mean, Boris Johnson said he's pausing the zero commitment. Germany is building coal and gas infrastructure, Italy's reopening coal fired power plants ... it's all over. I mean, it's all over by the shouting here," he said.
"What will happen in 28 years' time  or the policies that happen in 10 or 20 years ... I think should be up to the Australian people to decide."
Labor has earlier seized on the signs of division, with assistant climate spokesman and Shortland MP Pat Conroy saying there hadn't been a bigger split inside the Coalition on climate since Malcolm Turnbull was rolled as prime minister in 2018.
But Labor - in particular Mr Conroy - is under pressure itself on climate policy.
The opposition has this week been forced to clarify that coal miners would not be carved out from the mechanism used to force big emitters to reduce their carbon footprint, after Mr Conroy suggested they wouldn't be affected.
Labor has now confirmed that the same 215 sites which are currently subject to the safeguard mechanism would be covered under its plan.
Under Labor's plan, the Clean Energy Regulator would consult with each site to set lower emissions thresholds, in line with the goal of achieving net zero by 2050.
The businesses - which include mines and plants - can purchase carbon credits to offset their emissions.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has previously likened any expansion of the safeguard mechanism, which was established under Tony Abbott, as a backdoor carbon tax.
Mr Morrison ran a similar line of attack on Tuesday as he attempted to distract from the confusion on his side.
He claimed Labor's plan would tax and penalise businesses across a range of emissions-intensive sectors.
Dan covers federal politics from Parliament House, with a special focus on climate policy and the NDIS. He has previously reported on ACT politics and urban affairs since joining the Canberra Times in 2018.
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