Australia must commit to phasing out fossil fuels if it wants to co-host the world's biggest climate talks, an expert warns.
A coalition of 118 countries including Australia committed to double energy efficiency and triple renewable energy capacity within six years at the United Nations climate change conference COP28 in Dubai on Sunday.
Climate Council senior researcher Wesley Morgan said this was a terrific outcome, but Australia must also commit to the "flip side" of this agreement - a phasing out of fossils fuels, not a phasing down.
"It feels like semantics, phase out versus phase down," Dr Morgan told AAP.
"But the difference is one is a signal that these (fossil fuels) have no future in the global economy, and the other is that they will continue to have a future but at a reduced role."
The debate first came to a head at COP26 when India intervened in the Glasgow climate pact at the last minute to change the wording from a "phase-out" of coal to a "phase-down", bringing conference president Alok Sharma to tears as the watered-down agreement passed.
The issue reared its head again over the weekend after The Guardian reported COP28's host Sultan Al Jaber, who is also the head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil company, claimed there was "no science" behind calls to phase out fossil fuels.
Activists and researchers were already questioning the integrity of COP28 when the United Arab Emirates was picked to host the climate talks.
But with Australia harbouring hopes to co-host COP31 with Pacific nations while also exporting nearly three times as much fossil fuel as the UAE, Dr Morgan says a commitment to a "phase-out" at the current talks is necessary.
"COP31 is an opportunity for Australia to signal to the rest of the world that we are shifting from our past as a fossil fuel heavyweight to our future as a clean energy superpower," he said.
However, the government has so far resisted such calls.
Asked if Australia could be taken seriously without a commitment to phasing out fossil fuels, Assistant Climate Change Minister Jenny McAllister said the government was "rapidly transforming our own energy system".
"Our fossil fuel use within our own energy system at home is changing very dramatically over the course of the decade," she told ABC TV.
Though the government has committed to reduce emissions to 43 per cent below 2005 levels within the decade and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, Dr Morgan says politicians need to move faster.
"Based on a close reading of the science, based on our historic responsibilities for emissions, based on the fact that we're a wealthy country with vast, untapped renewable energy, we should be committing to achieve net-zero emissions by 2035."
Australian Associated Press