CANBERRA, AAP – Australia believes in achieving net zero carbon emissions, preferably by 2050, not just talking about it, the foreign minister has told parliament.

Many close allies, including the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany, are urging more ambition on climate action to be pledged at the Glasgow talks in November

The final official ministerial meeting ahead of the Conference of the Parties, or COP, is in Milan next month.

“We know that we’re on the frontline of climate change impacts,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne told parliament on Wednesday.

“We intend to reach net zero as soon as possible and preferably by 2050.”


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Australia’s leading businesses groups, investors and financiers have already adopted net zero by 2050, along with state and territory governments, and many must adhere to global rules on disclosure of climate risk.

National Australia Bank chief executive Ross McEwan told an online Australian-British Chamber of Commerce event on Wednesday that climate change is one of the biggest issues facing the bank and the nation.

“It’s everybody’s job, it’s your job, it’s my job, we all need to play our part in it,” Mr McEwan said.

He said 18 of their 20 large corporate customers in the energy sector have plans to get themselves to net zero by 2050, and bankers are also helping other sectors.

“We need to get everybody there. We can’t just wipe out industries here,” he said.

Greens senator Larissa Water has called for a doubling or tripling of targets

“It’s easy to meet crap targets,” she said.

As measured, Australia’s emissions are down 20 per cent from levels in 2005.

Senator Payne said Australia has a strong record of “overachieving” on targets, and will update medium-term targets and release a long-term emissions reduction strategy before Glasgow.

“We will release our updated forecasts ahead of COP26 which are expected to show a further improvement on Australia’s 2030 position,” she said.

“We believe in achieving, not just talking about it.”

Australia wants to be the “partner of choice” for the United States on climate and align economic and security interests in the Indo-Pacific.

“We share with the United States a resolute commitment to ambitious action on climate change,” the foreign minister said.