Rio Tinto emissions cuts lead govt: groups

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Rio Tinto emissions cuts lead govt: groups

Iron ore giant Rio Tinto's decision to cut its carbon emissions by a hefty 50 per cent by 2030 sets the pace for the federal government, climate advocates say.

The coalition is grappling with a plan to set an unlegislated net zero emissions target by 2050, without changes to its 2030 target.

But there's been push back by the junior coalition partner, the Nationals, ahead of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's departure for the COP26 global climate talks next month.

Rio Tinto announced on Wednesday night it would triple its emissions reduction target to 50 per cent by 2030, backed by $7.5 billion of spending on new technologies.

Beyond that, it's targeting net zero emissions by 2050.

“We have a clear pathway to decarbonise our business and are actively developing technologies that will enable our customers and our customer's customers to decarbonise,” CEO Jakob Stausholm said.

Greenpeace Australia said the Anglo-Australian group had recognised the threat to resources exports from carbon border tariffs.

“We're now seeing one of the biggest polluters in the country outstripping the federal government in its climate commitment,” Greenpeace's Lindsay Soutar said on Thursday.

“Scott Morrison's weak climate targets aren't fit for purpose as the business energy transition leaves them in the dust.”

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility said Rio Tinto's new targets were ambitious and sent a message to the government.

“While not as ambitious as Fortescue Metals Group's net zero emissions by 2030, Rio Tinto has come a long way under Jakob Stausholm,” ACCR Director of Climate Dan Goche said.

“Rio Tinto has sent a very strong message to COP26 and the Nationals party room – decarbonisation is happening, get on with it or get out of the way.”

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