Australia's climate policy is being dictated by a former accountant in a cowboy hat

Barnaby Joyce leads Australia's National Party, which traditionally represents rural voters.

(CNN)Australia's Prime Minister has all but confirmed he won't join global leaders at crucial climate talks in Glasgow.

Two more weeks of Covid-19 quarantine would be too much, Scott Morrison said on Friday, claiming that while there are "a lot of international interests," the most important audience for his yet-to-be-unveiled climate plan remains at home.
"My first and most important group that I need to talk to about our plan is not overseas. It's right here in Australia," he said. "It's talking to people in regional Australia, how the deputy prime minister and I believe our plan will help them in their communities, how our plan will help them realize their future."
    With that remark, Morrison made it clear his loyalty lies with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, a cowboy hat-wearing, former accountant who leads the National Party, the Liberal government's coalition partner -- and not with international allies who are urging Australia to take greater action to cut emissions.
      Australian Prime Minister says Australia will reach net zero "as soon as possible".
      Joyce says he wants to see the numbers before he agrees to any new climate targets, as he struggles to unite a party riven with differences over Australia's future relationship with coal.
      Morrison's refusal to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050 hasn't just isolated him on the international stage. Even within Australia's own borders -- aside from staunch pro-coal Nationals -- Morrison is looking more and more like he's being left behind.
      On Friday, even the Minerals Council of Australia, the country's mining advocacy group, announced it supported net zero emissions by 2050. The country's largest states have already announced large emission reduction targets, and surveys also show most Australian people support tougher climate action.
        Will Stefan, emeritus professor at the Australian National University's Fenner School of Environment and Society, said public opinion appeared to contradict the interests of Morrison's political allies and big business, who invest heavily in fossil fuels.
        "I think there's a growing gulf between what the Australian public wants and how our Prime Minister is behaving," he said.
        And that's a dangerous position for a Prime Minister to be in just months before a federal election.
        Photovoltaic modules at a solar farm on the outskirts of Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia.

        Selling Kodak cameras

        Part of the reason for Morrison's reluctance to take actions lies in the fact that he leads a coalition made up of the center-right, pro-business Liberal Party and the National Party, who traditionally advocate for regional workers and agricultural communities.
        The National Party has long opposed any action on climate change, claiming it will hurt rural communities. Joyce wants assurances the party's traditional supporters won't lose out in any broader transition to renewable energy.
        "It's the little old bush accountant saying that lots of clients have ideas, but (you need) to sit down with them and say, 'Okay, that's your idea, let's prudently go about this,'" Joyce told told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). He said whole towns rely on Australia's coal industry, and they shouldn't be forgotten.
        "It's not just those farms, not just the mines, it is the towns that are attached to the commerce of those industries," he said. "It is the hairdressers, the tire business. These people also rely on the Nationals to make sure that we don't pull the economic rug out from underneath them."
        Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House on June 23 in Canberra, Australia.