The Australian government has announced its emissions reduction target, signalling a reduction of 26-28 per cent in carbon emissions by 2030.

The government has come up with a "responsible" target that would not harm Australia’s resource-driven economy, Xinhua cited Prime Minister Tony Abbott as saying on Tuesday.

"We have come to a position that our 2030 emissions target will be in the range of 26-28 per cent," he said.

"There is a definite commitment to 26 per cent but we believe that we can go to 28 per cent."

"It’s a good, solid economically, environmentally responsible target. What we want to do is to protect and promote both (the economy and the environment)."

Abbott was defensive about the target, which came in for a firm backlash from environmental groups and opposition politicians, saying it was "fairly and squarely in the middle of comparable economies."

"It’s not quite as high as the Europeans at 34 per cent, but it is better than the Japanese at 25 per cent, it is vastly better than the (South) Koreans at four per cent."

Meanwhile the US has pledged a 41 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 while Canada offered a 30 per cent reduction.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is expected to take Australia’s target to the UN inter-governmental panel on climate change in Paris in November, said the target was "comparable" to other nations’ targets, and would be accepted by the panel.

Bishop said it was an "ambitious target" but one that was "responsible".

"Climate change is a global challenge so to tackle it you need a global agreement," she said.

"We will take to Paris an economically and environmentally responsible position."

Earlier on Tuesday, the opposition slammed the 26 to 28 per cent reduction target, with opposition spokesperson Mark Butler saying it would leave Australia at the "back of the pack."

"Countries to which we often compare ourselves – like the US and the UK, Germany, countries like that – all have targets in an equivalent time-frame into the 40 per cent range, so 41 per cent for America, 48 per cent for the UK, mid-40s for Germany, " he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The UN inter-governmental panel on climate change meets on November 30 in France, and the meeting will conclude on December 11.