Scott Morrison has pledged to protect industry on the road to net zero and shows no signs of increasing Australia's emissions reduction targets for 2030.
The prime minister is days away from a global climate summit organised by the United States where Australia will join other major emitters.
US President Joe Biden is poised to announce a more ambitious 2030 target along his road to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Mr Morrison has not committed to that target but says it is preferable.
"Our current target will see Australia - this is for 2030 - reduce our emissions by 70 per cent per unit of GDP on 2005 levels, and halve it when considered in per capita emissions," he told the Business Council on Monday night, spruiking gas and hydrogen.
"Don't let it be said by those who want to talk Australia down in what we're doing on emissions that we're not carrying our load.
He says Australia's energy mix will have to change over the next 30 years to achieve net zero carbon emissions.
Labor has accused the prime minister of again politicising the issue by saying net zero would be achieved in regional towns rather than in "cafes, dinner parties and wine bars".
The opposition's climate and energy spokesman Chris Bowen on Tuesday organised a virtual summit for industry focused on job creation opportunities in the sector.
"We need collaboration between industry, workers, government and experts - and a sharing of those ideas with policy makers," he said.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese wants Australian manufacturing to re-emerge with thanks to lower power bills caused by renewable energy.
But rather than setting out a plan for the phase-out of export resources like coal, he says its future will be based on global demand.
"Decisions about the long-term future of those industries will be made in the boardrooms of Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul and New Delhi," Mr Albanese told the summit.
Critics have warned the prime minister against flirting with net zero targets and letting Australia lag behind on climate action.
Independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall says Mr Morrison must be honest with Australians instead of causing division.
"Being honest about net zero by 2050 means Australia must also significantly increase its 2030 target," she said.
"Delaying deep emissions cuts until later will make action more costly and disruptive."
Save the Children Australia chief Paul Ronalds says Mr Morrison must listen to youth ahead of the climate summit.
"The climate crisis is a child rights crisis. It is not of their making, but children and young people are suffering the dire consequences of climate change."
On the digital fringes, three days of global climate action will feature a summit with youth climate activists including Greta Thunberg, along with other events to demand more ambition.
Australian Associated Press
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