Abandoning emissions targets could 'decimate' economy

Australia could be punished with a slew of carbon taxes if it abandons emissions reductions targets for nuclear power, mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has warned.

The opposition has spruiked a plan to scrap the government's 2030 target to reduce emissions by 43 per cent, and instead pin their sustainability hopes on nuclear power.

But Mr Forrest, the non-executive chairman of Fortescue Metals Group who is also a green energy advocate, said transition to nuclear power would take decades and transform Australia into an energy laggard.

"We would have been left behind by the rest of the world," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"By then, we'd have been hit with carbon taxes from Europe, from America, everywhere where they're saying ... 'we're investing to go green, you didn't, so we're going to tax your products on the way into Europe or on the way into North America'.

"That decimates the economic model Australia's (relied) on since federation as an export country."

A CSIRO report released in May showed a nuclear power plant would cost at least $8.5 billion and might not be completed until beyond 2040 because of infrastructure, security and safety hurdles.

Cabinet minister Amanda Rishworth said the government's renewable energy plan had already begun to deliver, while the coalition's plan was "just lazy policy".

"We are starting to get cheaper more reliable energy entering the grid being backed up with gas," she told Today.

However, Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie has claimed Labor's plan would send energy prices "through the roof" and defended her party's vow to avoid large-scale renewables.

"We do have a credible plan for zero-emissions nuclear to complement renewables so we can get prices down, keep jobs on shore and not trash the environment on the way," she said.

The coalition has also claimed it would roll back green energy tax incentives included in the federal budget.

But Mr Forrest said this would hurt businesses.

"Australian businesses are out there every day trying to rely on some degree of certainty to make employment decisions, investment decisions, to grow our country," he said.

"We need to know what's going to happen, what government policy is, and that they're going to stick to it so we can invest with confidence, employ people with confidence, thrive, up our standard of living, drive up everything we love about Australia, and stop this political scaremongering."