Australia won't be sending a government minister to next week's major United Nations climate talks, bucking a trend that has existed since the days of the Howard government.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed he won't be attending the UN conference in Warsaw, as he will be in Canberra for the introduction of the carbon tax repeal laws in parliament on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, whose department has lead role over international climate change negotiations, also won't be attending.

Instead, the Australian delegation will be led by Climate Change Ambassador Justin Lee, a senior public servant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This was to be the first major international climate change meeting attended by the newly-elected coalition government, and its decision not to send a minister has raised eyebrows.

"It's highly unusual," the Climate Institute's John Connor told AAP on Thursday.

"Australia's heft is significantly undermined by not having one of its senior elected representatives there."

A government minister had attended the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks since Ian Campbell headed the delegation under John Howard's first government in 1997.

Labor sent climate change ministers Penny Wong and Greg Combet from 2007, except last year when the Gillard government's parliamentary secretary on climate change Mark Dreyfus stood in for Mr Combet.

Opposition climate spokesman Mark Butler said the move was unprecedented and sent a bad signal.

"The political statement that's being made is all negative," he told Sky News on Thursday.

"Other countries are going to read into it at best with confusion and at worst that the Abbott government is walking away from global action on climate change."

While no major decisions will be made at Warsaw, it's expected the meeting will build momentum in the lead-up to major negotiations for a global agreement on cutting greenhouse gases in Paris in 2015.

Mr Connor said other countries were "nervous" about the direction the Australian government was heading on climate change, and they'd have to reinforce their commitment to global action.

Mr Hunt said Dr Lee's delegation would stand by Australia's target of at least a five per cent emissions cut by 2020 and seek a "deep, strong international agreement".

"In my case, we've got parliament over the next two weeks and I'm dealing with the legislation for repeal of the carbon tax," he told ABC radio.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said it was "understandable" that Mr Hunt was "embarrassed" by his government's decision to scrap the carbon tax, but it was no excuse to skip the global summit.

"He should be in Warsaw to face the music," Mr Bandt said in a statement.

"Action speaks louder than words and once again the climate denialism of the Abbott government is clear from their inaction."

 

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