Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt has promised Australia will meet and beat its emissions reduction target for 2020 and 2030, yet the government has drawn criticism for its climate policy.

Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event in Sydney and his first local address since returning from the Paris climate conference, Hunt assured that Australia was “leading the charge” during the final stages of the summit.

“We’ve gone to Paris with the intention of being a deeply constructive country,” he said.

“The momentum is real, important and significant.”

Hunt said that Australia was working in a significant role to implement a five year review policy, pressuring countries to meet emission targets in an effort to keep global warming below two degrees.

“Australia has helped lead the charge on five yearly reviews,” Hunt stated.

“We have put this on the table and been one of the leaders in trying to provide reviews as a way forward.”

The Environment Minister was extremely confident that Australia is on course to meet its target to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28 per-cent by 2030, the same standard set by the Abbott government.

“We are standing in a very good stead in comparison to other countries”, he added.

The reduction targets set by the Abbott government and subsequently inherited by Prime Minister Turnbull have however drawn criticism in recent days.

The Climate Change Performance Index, a collaborative analysis by European think tanks, rated Australia third to last of 61 countries regarding efforts to reduce emissions.

Placed only ahead of Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan, Australia scored ‘very poor’ on its climate policy, energy efficiency and renewable energy policies. According to Oxfam Australia CEO Helen Szoke “this again proves that Australia's rhetoric in Paris does not match its actions.”

Much of this criticism stems from the lack of government effort to reduce coal and fossil fuel development. Australia is set to become the largest exporter of coal and LNG (liquefied natural gas), primarily to India, the country whose development has become the centre of global climate concerns.

Mr Hunt was asked at the CEDA conference if Australia was taking any measures to ensure that the fossil fuels exported to India would be used in the least emissions intensive way possible.

He responded by explaining Australia’s rich resources represented a cleaner alternative for India as it seeks to continue its substantial economic development.

“The net impact on India’s emissions overall is significantly lower by their analysis for having Australia involved”, he said.

“As a developing country they are saying we want to bring people out of poverty.”

As the world awaits a climate deal to be agreed on in Paris, the Environment Minister and the Turnbull government will no doubt face further calls to improve Australia’s position on climate policy.

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