Australia will sign Kyoto 2, the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says.
Mr Combet outlined the plan in an email to Labor Party supporters on Friday before a formal announcement.
"Labor has a proud history of taking action on climate change," Mr Combet said in the email.
"We fought hard to introduce a price on carbon and the very first act of the newly elected Labor government in 2007 was to ratify the first Kyoto protocol.
"Joining Kyoto 2 will be another chapter in that history."
Mr Combet said Australia hoped to finalise its commitment at UN climate talks in Doha in December.
This would pave the way for a new binding global agreement, involving all major emitters, to be finalised by 2015, he said.
The Kyoto protocol was the first global treaty to set binding obligations on countries to cut emissions.
It also created the world's first global carbon market spanning developed and developing countries and the private sector.
It establishes a set of rules and accounting procedures for emissions, and the Kyoto market mechanisms help developed countries meet their commitments and developing countries access clean technology.
Addressing a carbon expo in Melbourne on Friday, Mr Combet said Australia had sought a "comprehensive climate change regime" based on the two principles of global coverage and environmental effectiveness.
"Today I can announce that Australia is ready to join a second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol," he said.
Australia was taking that position to the UN Conference at Doha in" a very clear context".
"First, countries right around the world are increasingly taking real action to combat climate change.
"Second, all countries are now working on the new global agreement that will be concluded by 2015, and take effect from 2020."
Australia's preparedness to join a second commitment period relied on a continuation of the existing land sector rules and access to the Kyoto market mechanisms from January 1, 2013, Mr Combet said.
If these conditions are met in Doha, Australia will take on an emissions reduction target for the Kyoto protocol's second commitment period consistent with the bipartisan commitment to cut emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, the minister said.
"As we've made clear before, the government leaves on the table the potential to increase the target to up to 15 or 25 per cent, depending on the scale of global action," Mr Combet said.
Signing the protocol would not affect the liabilities of companies covered under the carbon price which started on July 1.
Rather, it would give businesses greater certainty of access to international carbon markets and provide new opportunities for carbon farming.