Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will lead  leads talks at the global climate change conference.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will lead leads talks at the global climate change conference.

Govt aims for 26% reduced carbon emissions by 2030

THE Abbott Government will aim for a 26% reduction in Australia's carbon emissions by 2030, when Foreign Minister Julie Bishop leads talks at the global climate change conference in Paris in December.

While business groups have welcomed the announcement of a target, following more than 50 other nations who have already announced their targets, environmentalists were disappointed.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he did not want to sacrifice the economy for the environment, instead preferring to "have both".

The target would see Australia's previous international commitment, of a 20% by 2020 cut from a 2000 baseline, shifted to the 26% cut by 2030, from a 2005 baseline.

The government's own Climate Change Authority has previously urged a target of at least 40% from a 2005 baseline, a recommendation effectively rejected when the Coalition party room met this morning to discuss the policy.

But Mr Abbott said the policy decision, first reached last night in Cabinet, was not meant to appease "climate change sceptics" within his party, but to ensure all MPs had a say.

The Prime Minister also did not rule out attending the Paris conference, if it became a "leader's forum", but said under current plans Ms Bishop would lead the Australian delegation.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the policy would rely chiefly on the government's $2.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, and an enforcement mechanism yet to be put in place for polluters.

But it would also rely on "other forms of abatement", including possible technological advances.

Mr Hunt did not refute the prospect that the cuts would also rely on the decline in Australia's manufacturing industry - the most heavy-emitting sector in the economy; but he would not detail what assumptions were made in the government's modelling.