Massive economic returns await if Australia seizes opportunities to invest in clean energy technologies, the state's environment and energy minister Matt Kean believes.
But he warns other countries will snap up these emerging investment windows if Australian governments drag their heels on climate change action.
"I'm not saying shut down our global export markets tomorrow. The jobs in coal and mineral exports will be determined by boardrooms in Singapore and Seoul and Tokyo," he said.
"What I'm saying is we should be moving to position ourselves to grab these new opportunities that are emerging.
"If 50 per cent of the world's GDP is now committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 that's 70 per cent of Australia's two-way trade, that means the markets that have previously underwritten our prosperity are shifting the type of resources they are going to need.
"I'm just saying we should grab them (the opportunities) and make the most of them. I'm not doing this because I'm some woke greenie, I'm doing this because I'm economically rational."
Minister Kean made the comments at a NSW Nature Conservation Council forum held on Wednesday to discuss the risks and opportunities presented by climate change.
Federal Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen was also in attendance.
The pair agreed that delaying action on climate change was almost as bad as denying its existence.
Mr Bowen argued the Federal Government's refusal to commit to a net zero emissions target by 2050 could have potentially dire economic consequences.
"I should not be able to come in here and boast that we (Labor) are committed to net zero by 2050 but it is remarkable because the government isn't," he said.
"We are the only country in the world not committed to net zero by 2050 - the country is but the (federal) government isn't."
He argued communities and their workers needed to be at the centre of economic transition policies, in particular retraining workers for new jobs in clean energy technology generation.
Mr Bowen cited the example of the workers from the Yallourn Power Station, who he met with recently, who will lose their jobs when the power station closes.
"They had very firm and clear and strong views about how they need to be treated in the change, about the support, the certainty they need to be given and those views are right.
"But they were very realistic. These are smart people who are used to changes in the market who shouldn't be lied to or filled with false prophecies by charlatans offering them false hope that somehow there will be a new coal-fired power station in Australia. There won't be.
"I went and looked them in the eye and told them there won't be. And it wasn't a difficult conversation because they had a clear view about what's next.
"They want to continue to power Australia. And as I said to them "Retraining does not mean becoming a barista or a graphic designer. It means generating the power of the future".
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Mr Kean said he expected the economics of renewables, in particular batteries, to shift significantly in the next decade.
"The reality is today the cheapest way of replacing our existing (coal-fired) generation is with a combination of wind, solar and pumped hydro," he said.
"Yes, there is a bit of role for gas to play; the economics of gas are still pretty good at the moment particularly at firming up renewables at the margins but we expect in the next 10 or even five years, batteries will come down the cost curve and really challenge the economics of gas."
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