"It just doesn't make sense in terms of Australia's national interest for us to sign the Kyoto Protocol on present conditions when you have major polluters and emitters, countries such as China and Brazil and Indonesia, that wouldn't be subject to the constraints we'd be subject to," Howard said.
Australia could still meet the target it accepted before it turned its back on the Kyoto process, Howard said.
Australia, one of only three countries allowed to raise emissions rather than obliged to lower them, was set -- and even accepted -- a target of achieving 108 percent of 1990 emissions by 2010. However, it then ducked out of the Kyoto process, saying it wouldn't re-engage until the US did.
Gareth Walton, climate campaigner with the international environmental lobby group Greenpeace, said all the available evidence shows that Australia would not meet its Kyoto target.
His view was echoed by the ACF's Don Henry, who noted that Australia had managed to get close to its Kyoto target only by factoring into the equation a lower level of land clearing than in the past.
"The emissions from the energy sector in Australia have increased by about 30 percent since 1990," Henry said. "We're actually facing a greenhouse disaster scenario in our energy and transportation sectors."
On a per capita basis, Australia is the world's biggest generator of greenhouse gases. The US is the biggest polluter overall.