Under review: Australia's pledge to reduce carbon emissions

AUSTRALIA'S commitment to reducing carbon emission is under review, with the Abbott government to reassess the nation's renewable energy target this year.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane announced the review, mandated under existing laws, would report by the middle of the year.

While the review is due this year, it follows comments from Prime Minister Tony Abbott that "changing circumstances" that the RET was affecting electricity prices.

The review will also be headed by noted climate sceptic, businessman Dick Warburton, and include Matthew Zema, Dr Brian Fisher and Shirley In't Veld.

The government has previously signalled potential reductions in the target for emissions reductions, but has not put a specific figure to what was previously agreed would be a 20% reduction by 2020.

Mr Macfarlane said the review would consider the target's role in reducing emissions, its impact on electricity prices and the "costs and benefits" for the renewable energy sector, manufacturing and households.

He said it would be "open and transparent, and will consult with a broad range of stakeholders".

The review follows the government's scrapping of the nation's Climate Commission, abolition of the Department of Climate Change, and comes as the government urges the Opposition to "get out of the way" of its planned repeal of the carbon tax.

It will also form part of the Abbott Government's energy white paper process, which follows the previous government undertaking a similar extensive white paper process completed last year.

The Minerals Council on Monday hit out at the RET, describing it and the carbon tax as "a unilateral assault" on Australia's "comparative advantage" in the global economy.

While MCA chief executive Brendan Pearson said "policy mistakes" including the RET and carbon tax had imposed "steadily higher electricity costs", he did not mention the role of gold-plating of state-owned power networks in increasing power prices for consumers.

He also said to keep energy costs down and carbon emissions lower, Australia should "seek to capitalise on its rich uranium endowment", by re-igniting the national debate on nuclear power.

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