Australia to announce target to cut carbon emissions

SYDNEY, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Australia is expected to announce on Tuesday that it plans to cut carbon emissions by at least 26 percent of 2005 levels by 2030, a target that will leave the country trailing most other advanced economies.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s cabinet agreed on a target of 26 to 28 percent in a meeting overnight, The Australian newspaper reported citing unnamed sources. The level is far below recommendations by its own Climate Change Authority.

The cabinet room decision will be put to the wider party room of the ruling conservative Liberal and National Party coalition on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government wanted policies that would not harm Australia’s economic growth.

“It is very important for us to make a strong and responsible contribution to global efforts to reduce emissions, but one which does not detract from our economic prosperity moving forward,” Cormann said.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and iron ore and one of the largest carbon emitters on a per capita basis due to its reliance on coal-fired power plants.

Abbott is a strong supporter of the coal industry and last year scrapped a carbon tax and an emissions trading plan, arguing they would burden industry.

The Australian leader has also cut the country’s renewable energy target and abolished the Climate Commission, a body to provide public information on the effects of global warming.

Last month he came under fire from the opposition and investors after ordering the government’s A$10 billion ($7.45 billion) Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to stop investing in wind and solar power.

The Climate Change Authority said last month that Australia needed to reduce emissions by 40 to 60 percent by 2030, based on the level of emissions from the year 2000, if it was going to meet an international agreement to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

Australia is currently aiming to reduce emissions by 5 percent by 2020, based on the level of emissions in 2000. (Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Toni Reinhold)