The Federal Government says it has met its 2020 greenhouse emissions target, ahead of this week’s climate change talks in Paris.
It has released figures from the Department of Environment showing Australia had already achieved a 5 per cent reduction based on 2000 levels.
By 2020, the department predicted Australia would have met its target by 28 million tonnes.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt told the National Press Club it would make it easier to make additional cuts in the future.
“We have closed the gap and go to Paris officially subzero and on track to beat our 2020 target,” Mr Hunt said.
“This still remains a conservative forecast, and I am hopeful that future updates will show an even greater surplus.”
Mr Hunt will be joined in Paris by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop later this month.
The Federal Government has committed to a 26 per cent to 28 per cent reduction by 2030.
Labor has questioned the figures, claiming much of the gains were because of accounting measures.
The department figures showed emission reductions from previous years had been carried over, with a reduction in economic growth also factored in.
Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler said figures from market analyst Reputex showed carbon pollution between now and 2020 would see a 6 per cent rise.
“Malcolm Turnbull will get on the plane to Paris and presumably trumpet the fact that Australia has been able to technically achieve its Kyoto commitment,” he said.
“But what will be clear is that Malcolm Turnbull is getting on that plane, laden down by Tony Abbott’s policies that were deliberately designed to do nothing to reduce carbon pollution levels.”
Mr Hunt rejected the claims and stood by his figures.
“We can achieve and will achieve our 2030 target, although it will be a challenge, precisely as it should be,” he said.
“And we will achieve our targets without a carbon tax and without its pressure on electricity and gas prices.”
Under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia promised to look at cuts of between 15 per cent and 25 per cent by 2020, if the rest of the world made similar cuts.
Mr Hunt stopped short of meeting that promise, but stressed that under current projections, Australia “in all likelihood” would go further than the current 5 per cent target.