Greens: carbon target puts Australia at 'back of the pack'

LABOR and the Greens have hit out at the Federal Government's new carbon emissions reduction target, saying it will put Australia behind global efforts to stem climate change.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Tuesday that the government hoped to cut carbon emissions by between 26% and 28% by 2030 from where they were in 2005.

Labor's environment spokesman, Mark Butler, told the ABC the target was not high enough.

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"Countries to which we often compare ourselves - like the US and the United Kingdom, Germany, countries like that - all have targets in an equivalent timeframe into the 40%," he said.

Greens deputy leader Larissa Waters described the target as incredibly weak and said it would put Australia at "the back of the pack" on climate change action.

The government's own Climate Change Authority had previously recommended a target of at least 40% from a 2005 baseline.

Australia's previous international commitment was a carbon cut of 20% by 2020 from a 2000 baseline.

Mr Abbott said the 2030 target was "fairly in the middle of comparable economies".

"We are not leading, but we are certainly not lagging," he said.

"It's environmentally responsible because it's more than comparable with what other countries are doing.

"It's economically responsible because it doesn't depend upon a great big new tax on everything, or a massive overbuild of renewable capacity in the next few years."

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the target relied chiefly on the government's $2.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund and an enforcement mechanism yet to be put in place for polluters but expected to be enforced from 2020 onwards.

Australia is one of the world's worst greenhouse gas emitters per head of population.

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