A state Liberal minister has urged the Morrison government to "rise to the challenge" and join forces with its AUKUS security allies to lead the global fight against climate change.
NSW energy and environment minister Matt Kean says co-operation with the US and UK was needed to counter the two major challenges to "our way of life"; the risk of an authoritarian China to democratic values and the threat of climate change.
Mr Kean made the remarks on Wednesday in a speech to a UK-government hosted forum on the business case for pursuing net zero emissions.
The comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison held face-to-face talks with US President Joe Biden, whose administration has been pushing Australia to increase its emissions reduction targets ahead of the UN climate summit in Glasgow.
Mr Morrison told reporters that he and Mr Biden were "seeking to get to the same place" on climate action, but refused to say if that meant he would commit Australia to a net zero by 2050 target.
Mr Kean has been a long-time advocate of stronger action on climate change, spearheading ambitious renewable energy policies in NSW and being unafraid to publicly call out his federal Liberal colleagues over their policy positions.
In the speech to Wednesday's online forum, Mr Kean framed the rise of China and climate change as the two most significant threats of our times.
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He said that just as Australia, UK and US had a shared interest in peace and the protection of democratic values amid the rise of China, the new AUKUS partners had a mutual interest in shielding the planet and their economies from climate change.
Mr Kean said the US and UK were leading the global fight against climate change and Australia "can and should join them". Doing so, he said, would show that 'democracy and Australia was up for the challenges of our time".
Both the US and UK nations have committed to net zero by 2050 and set ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets.
"The international community is on a clear trajectory on climate and emissions reductions policy," Mr Kean told the "Racing to Zero" forum.
"Our most trusted friends and allies and AUKUS partners are leading by example.
"We should join them in rising to the challenge and lean into the moment to both fortify our standing as a good corporate citizen and fuel our economic prospects for the decades ahead ... [and] help form a coalition of countries for responsible and decisive action on climate change."
Mr Kean said Australia had the potential to become both a renewable energy superpower and an economic powerhouse.
"Australia is one of the best placed countries to help the world decarbonise," he said. "Mining the minerals needed to build a net zero carbon economy - iron ore, lithium, copper and nickel - can help drive the next Australian mining boom."
In New York, Mr Morrison told reporters that Australia would make the transition to a carbon neutral economy, but it would do so on its own terms.
He wouldn't be drawn on a possible net zero commitment, but said announcements about Australia's plans would be made prior to the Glasgow summit in November.
"We are going to see the most profound transition of the global energy economy that we've seen in a very long time," he said.
"And we are going to be making that transition and we're going to be making that with an Australian plan."
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