Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the country will target net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but added they would not legislate for it.

He said they would instead rely on consumers and companies to drive emission reductions.

The adoption of the target will ease international criticism of Australia which had earlier refused to join countries such as Britain and the United States in pledging zero emissions by 2050 ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

Mr Morrison said Australia, one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal, will achieve its net zero target largely through technology development, with government investment totalling A$20 billion (almost €13m).

This investment, he said, would reduce the costs of technology such as clean hydrogen, which will increase their use.

Mr Morrison, who faces an expected close election by May 2022, sought to downplay any threat on domestic industries and jobs as a result of reducing emissions.

"Australians want action on climate change. They're taking action on climate change, but they also want to protect their jobs and their livelihoods. They also want to keep the costs of living down," he told reporters in Canberra.

"I also want to protect the Australian way of life, especially in rural and regional areas. The Australian way of life is unique."

While Australia will introduce a 2050 target, Mr Morrison said Canberra would not strengthen its 2030 target of reducing emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels.

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However, Australia will surpass that target, reducing emissions by 2030 by between 30-35%, he said.

The prime minister struggled to gain backing for the net zero target from his coalition government's junior partner, the National Party, which has a regional power base reliant on agriculture and mining, and has long opposed climate policies.

However, the party said on Sunday it would support a net zero target.

The Australian Financial Review reported the deal included an agreement for increase spending on regional infrastructure and tax benefits for income derived from carbon farming.

The deal will aid Mr Morrison's political position in regional areas that have historically been critical of economic restrictions to curb carbon output.

A widely watched poll yesterday showed Mr Morrison is on course to lose to the centre-left Labor party.