Climate target 'has very little meaning'

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Australia's goal of reducing emissions to net zero by 2050 has been branded by former US vice-president Al Gore as almost meaningless without a stronger interim target.

He urged Australian coal miners to be alert for "hollow words" in politicians' promises about emissions-heavy jobs for decades to come.

"Are they promising to protect them from the owners of the coal mines who are introducing automation at an unprecedented rate?" Mr Gore told a virtual Climate Smart Engineering conference on Tuesday.

"Are they promising to protect them from the market forces that are driving the cost of electricity from renewable sources so much lower than the cost of electricity from burning coal - that they're going to somehow like King Canute tell the tides to stop?

"(Coal miners) deserve the all-out effort by governments at every level to provide new opportunities that are at least as good as the opportunities in the jobs of the past."

Mr Gore warned Australia's refusal at the COP26 climate summit to boost its 2030 emissions target or agree to slash methane emissions put at risk the country's economic leadership.

"I was glad to see Australia commit to net zero by 2050. But I was disappointed that the 2030 target was not increased. I do think Australia should do more," he said.

"A 2050 pledge without a near-term pledge has very little meaning."

The Morrison government insisted Australia's 2030 emissions reduction target of a 26 to 28 per cent cut on 2005 levels was fixed.

Australia took to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow a workaround in the form of an updated projection forecasting a 30 to 35 per cent fall in emissions this decade.

The coalition maintained coal production would remain a key economic pillar over coming decades even as its own modelling forecast a halving of its value by 2050.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt didn't necessarily buy that figure.

"Modelling is modelling is modelling," he told Sky News, reiterating Australia would keep selling coal for as long as countries were buying.

Mr Gore urged federal leaders to see the enormous potential from wind and solar.

"Others who look to the future, think immediately of sunshine and wind. And those resources, Australia has in more abundance than any other nation on Earth," he said.

Meanwhile, Indigenous Australians launched a network to ensure renewable developments in their communities worked for them.

The First Nations Clean Energy Network aimed to develop agreements with companies to make sure benefits were shared equally and renewables didn't join the list things done to, and not with, Indigenous people.

"For too long, our communities have been forced to rely on dirty, expensive and unreliable power that is undermining our people's health and wellbeing," Warumungu traditional owner Norman Jupurrurla Frank said.

"Clean energy is the medicine that our people need. I dream of having solar on every house in town.

"We can get our people trained up to bring cheap energy from the sun, which unlike diesel or gas, will never run out and won't hurt our country."

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