Australia should use the upcoming COP25 climate conference to bolster its action against climate change, instead of fighting for the use of controversial carryover credits, an expert has warned.
The UN Climate Change Conference (referred to as COP25) is set to be held in Madrid from December 2 to 13, after Chile pulled out as host this month.
Australia will be represented at the conference by new Ambassador for the Environment Jamie Isbister, who was appointed to the role on Monday, but it is unclear whether Foreign Minister Marise Payne or Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor will attend. A spokesman for the Foreign Minister said "any announcement about ministerial attendance will be made in due course".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was criticised for failing to attend the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September, despite already travelling in the United States.
Climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute Richie Merzian said Australia was already seen as a laggard on climate action.
"As the only country to dismantle a working carbon price, and the Prime Minister's absence at the New York Climate Summit - that even [US President Donald] Trump attended - was noted and cost Australia."
One of the major issues to be discussed at the conference will be whether carryover credits from the Kyoto protocol can be used by countries in order to meet their carbon emission reduction targets under the Paris agreement.
Australia's policies rely on using these credits and at a Senate estimates hearing in October officials conceded they knew of no other countries doing so to meet their targets.
"It is important for a minister to represent at these climate conferences where the deals are secured in small rooms at a high level," Mr Merzian said.
"Australia has a particular interest in advocating for the use of carryover credits and it is alone in prosecuting this interest."
A decision to prevent countries using carryover credits to reach their 2030 goals would have an impact on Australia, with 367 million tonnes of the 695 million tonne reduction in carbon emissions required to reach Australia's target to come from the credits.
Mr Merzian said Australia needed to use its diplomatic power to back smaller countries from the Pacific calling for climate action.
"I'd like to see Australia pledge additional financial support for developing countries to undertake climate action, including through the Green Climate Fund. I'd like to see Australia commit to increasing its 2030 targets, which many other countries are doing and I'd like to see Australia be an advocate for its Pacific family in pushing all parties to do more."