CANBERRA, AAP – Australia is under fire for watering down climate change references and disappearing temperature targets from a UK trade deal.

The British government has agreed to “drop both of the climate asks” including a reference to Paris Accord temperature goals to get its pending free trade deal with Australia over the line.

While specific references to temperature commitments are gone, a leaked email notes the Paris Agreement still gets a mention in the yet-to-be-inked deal.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended the move, saying the agreement with the UK is about trade and not climate.

“It wasn’t a climate agreement, it was a trade agreement,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

“In trade agreements I deal with trade issues. In climate agreements I deal with climate issues.”

Coal and gas are among Australia’s top exports.

Mr Morrison said Australia would keep mining for as long as it could sell its resources overseas, while acknowledging international demand will decrease.

“But I tell you the other thing we’ll do, and that is ensure we’ll work – particularly with developing countries – to ensure that they are able to engage in a positive transition of their own energy economies,” he said.

“They will continue, as the current agreements already provide for, to be using the resources that Australia has exported for a long time and will continue to well into the future.”

Australia has not updated its 2015 Paris pledge of reducing emissions between 26 and 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 ahead of upcoming climate talks in Glasgow.

It continues to cop international criticism about failing to pull its weight, relative to comparable nations, on emissions reduction and the issue remains vexed within the coalition.

“I know what we’ve already achieved and that beats so many of those who are seeking to make other commitments now,” Mr Morrison said.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said Australia’s emissions reduction schemes were on track for a 6.5 per cent improvement on emissions reduction compared to 2020.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese accused Mr Morrison of holding Australia back when it came to renewable energy opportunities.

“The Paris commitments are something that Australia has signed up to, but which Australia continues to sit in the naughty corner with the rest of the world,” Mr Albanese said.

“The whole world has signed up to net-zero emissions by 2050. Scott Morrison continues to be a recalcitrant when it comes to climate change action.”

Trade Minister Dan Tehan’s office earlier released a statement saying Australia and the UK had agreed to work co-operatively on environmental issues, including emissions reduction.

“Australia has remained consistent that all our FTAs should focus on international co-operation and meeting existing multilateral environment commitments,” it said.

In August, US deputy climate chief Jonathan Pershing told a climate forum it would be “really helpful” for Australia to be more ambitious about reducing emissions.

Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon separately labelled a failure to get credible targets a huge threat to Australia’s future prosperity and international standing.