Scott Morrison discussed reaching net zero emissions with Joe Biden during a “warm and engaging” first conversation with the new US President, who is “enthusiastic” about visiting Australia.
Mr Morrison denied Canberra was at loggerheads with the new administration over climate change despite Mr Biden joining a number of major powers in committing to net zero emissions by 2050.
The Prime Minister has been reticent to commit to the target but insisted his government would work closely with Washington on technology to reduce emission reductions.
“We had a very positive discussion about the path we’re on and the commitments that we’ve made,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“We’re very focused on the technological challenge … joining Australia and the United States.
“They are going to be investing significantly in those technologies. And I was pleased to be able to say we were doing exactly the same thing.”
Labor has argued Mr Biden’s election provided an opening for Australia to set more ambitious climate goals.
He said conversations had already begun between Energy Minister Angus Taylor and John Kerry, Mr Biden’s climate tsar, over ways to achieve net zero.
The Prime Minister has invited Mr Biden to visit on the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty, signed in April 1951.
“He told me he needs no special reason to come to Australia, he loves the place,” Mr Morrison said.
“They would very much like to be in Australia at some point, and we’ll see how that progresses.
“But (he has) a very keen enthusiasm to come back to Australia, which he knows so well.”
Barack Obama was the last president to visit Australia in 2014 when he attended the G20 Summit in Brisbane.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said last month Mr Morrison would have his “work cut out” to strike a close relationship with Mr Biden after “pandering” to his predecessor Donald Trump.
But Mr Morrison has distanced himself from the former president since the November election, notably omitting his name while thanking outgoing members of his administration.
And the Prime Minister insisted there was “nothing to fix, only things to build on” in Canberra’s relations with Washington.
“As he said to me again today, he sees the Australia-US relationship as providing the anchor for peace and security in our region. And that is true, we share that view,” he said.
Key to regional stability is Beijing, which was met with hostility by the Trump administration.
The Trump administration developed a hostile relationship with China, launching a three-year trade war with a raft of tariffs and sanctions.
Mr Biden’s administration also pledged to “rally behind” behind Canberra in its own trade stoush with Beijing in December.
And while Mr Morrison said Mr Biden would strike a different tone to his predecessor, he would likely stay the course in Washington’s approach to the region.
“Obviously there are differences in how that’s expressed and the nuances that are there,” he said.
“But I think in the United States, Australia has and remains to have a very, very strong and effective partner on these issues of Indo-Pacific security.
“There is an absolute affirmation and understanding that we are in this together, we are absolutely in this together.”
Mr Biden has held talks with the leaders of Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, Germany, NATO, Russia, Japan and South Korea since assuming office.