Emissions target needs to be 40% less than 15 years ago

THE ABBOTT Government has been warned that Australia needs to cut its carbon emissions by up to 40% below what they were in 2000 if the nation is to match global efforts to prevent the worst of climate change.

The figures were contained in a submission from the Academy of Science to the government's review of the nation's emissions reductions target.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this week started the first of a series of talks on setting the nation's new target post-2020.

Despite the government's record on climate change being widely criticised, the talks were expected to feed in to Australia's position at a global meeting later this year to set international limits.

Academy president Professor Andrew Holmes said that the best available science showed Australia needed to commit to a target of 30-40% below 2000 levels.

He said the more stringent target was needed to match global efforts and avoid the most serious impacts of climate change.

Academy Fellow Matthew England said Australia faced a choice; whether to "ignore the facts and massive costs" or act on the evidence.

"It's in our national interest to do this - even though we only contribute 1% of global emissions, we are vulnerable to 100% of the impacts of climate change," he said.