Australia unveiled plans Thursday to keep burning natural gas beyond 2050, saying its reliance on the fossil fuel would not derail a pledge to reach net zero emissions in the next 30 years.

Resources minister Madeleine King said gas "will remain an important source of energy" in Australia, outraging environmental groups who branded the Future Gas Strategy a "climate disaster".

"Gas plays a crucial role in supporting our economy," King said, arguing it would stabilise the country's electricity grid as renewables were ramped up.

Australia has pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and has recently touted plans to overhaul its economy with massive investments in clean energy production.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese defended the gas strategy, saying it would not imperil Australia's climate commitments.

"It is consistent with the long position that we have held, my government is committed to a net-zero future," he said.

"Gas power generation is something that firms renewables."

Australia will also continue to ship gas overseas under the plan. Such shipments currently account for about 14 percent of the country's export earnings.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Gavan McFadzean said the strategy was a "climate disaster" that needed to be abandoned.

"Gas is a highly polluting fossil fuel, the burning of which is supercharging bushfires, heatwaves, coral bleaching and flooding in Australia and around the world," he said.

"To replace one fossil fuel with another is not a clean energy transition."

Anti-mining group Lock the Gate said the gas plan was a looming "fossil fuel disaster".