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'Australia Is On The Pathway To Net Zero', Morrison Tells Climate Summit

Australia is betting on technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told an online climate summit hosted by the US.

"Australia is on the pathway to net zero," Mr Morrison said early on Friday morning in an address to a meeting convened by US President Joe Biden.

"Our goal is to get there as soon as we possibly can through technology that enables and transforms our industries, not taxes that eliminate them and the jobs and livelihoods they support and create, especially in our regions."

The US, the UK and the European Union say they are aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, a target the federal government has not previously provided a solid commitment to.

"For Australia, it is not a question of if or even by when for net zero, but importantly how," Mr Morrison said on Friday, adding the government was putting money towards finding new technology solutions.

"We are investing around $20 billion to achieve ambitious goals that will bring the cost of clean hydrogen, green steel, energy storage and carbon capture to commercial parity," he said.

"In Australia our ambition is to produce the cheapest clean hydrogen in the world, at $A2 per kilogram."

Mr Morrison made his comments from the Sydney Commonwealth Parliament Offices cabinet room after Mr Biden kicked off the summit by announcing the US would aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half, from 2005 levels, by 2030.

"Mr President, in the United States you have the Silicon Valley," Mr Morrison said.

"Here in Australia we are creating our own 'Hydrogen Valleys' where we will transform our transport industries, our mining and resource sectors, our manufacturing, our fuel and energy production.

"In Australia our journey to net zero is being led by world-class pioneering Australian companies like Fortescue, led by Dr Andrew Forrest, Visy, BHP, Rio Tinto, AGL and so many more of all sizes."

Mr Morrison's address to the global summit was preceded by a speech from Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering and was followed by remarks from Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

Also at the summit, The United States and other countries hiked their targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions. Biden unveiled the goal to cut emissions by 50-52 per cent from 2005 levels.

The US, the world's second-leading emitter after China, seeks to reclaim global leadership in the fight against global warming after former president Donald Trump withdrew the country from international efforts to cut emissions.

"This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis," Biden said at the White House.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the new US goal "game changing", as two other countries made new pledges.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who visited Biden at the White House this month, raised Japan's target for cutting emissions to 46 per cent by 2030, up from 26 per cent.

Canada's Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, raised his country's goal to a cut of 40-45 per cent by 2030 below 2005 levels, up from 30 per cent.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro announced his most ambitious environmental goal yet, saying the country would reach emissions neutrality by 2050, 10 years earlier than the previous goal.

US President Joe Biden on the climate video conference. Image: Getty.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said China expects its carbon emissions to peak before 2030 and the country will achieve net zero emissions by 2060.

Xi said China will gradually reduce its coal use from 2025 to 2030.

China, a leader in producing technology for renewable energy like solar panels, burns large amounts of coal for electricity generation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed giving preferential treatment for foreign investment in clean energy projects but also made an apparent reference to the US being historically the world's top emitter.

"It is no secret that the conditions that facilitated global warming and associated problems go way back," Putin said.

The US climate goal marks a milestone in Biden's broader plan to decarbonise the US economy entirely by 2050 - an agenda the Democrat president says can create millions of good-paying jobs but which many Republicans say will damage the economy.

The summit is the first in a string of meetings of world leaders - including the G7 and G20 - ahead of annual UN climate talks in November in Scotland.