Scott Morrison has expressed a preference for Australia to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but stopped short of committing to the target.
The prime minister is pinning the government's efforts to reduce emissions on technological advances.
"Our goal is to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050," Mr Morrison told the National Press Club on Monday.
"But when we get there - whether in Australia or anywhere else - that will depend on the advances made in science and technology needed to commercially transform not just advanced economies and countries, but the developing world as well."
Australia is under increasing pressure to take stronger action on climate change following the election of Joe Biden in the United States.
The new president has committed America to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
Mr Morrison said Australia would invest in technology breakthroughs needed to reduce and offset emissions in ways that would sustain heavy industry.
"In Australia, my government will not tax our way to net zero emissions. I will not put that cost on Australians. And I will particularly not ask regional Australians to carry that burden," he said.
"Getting to net zero, whether here or anywhere else, should be about technology. Not taxes and high prices. In Australia, we're not waiting on this. We're getting on with it."
He said developing nations would dominate the "emissions horizon" making them crucial to global emissions reduction.
Australian Associated Press
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