EU, New Zealand Can’t Be World ‘Idiots’ on Climate, Envoy Says

The U.S. and China must agree to greater transparency of promises to cut greenhouse gases if other countries are expected to take on more emissions cuts under the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand’s climate envoy said.

New Zealand won’t sign up for a second round of emissions cuts under the treaty unless a “Kyoto plus” deal is worked out, Tim Groser, New Zealand’s chief envoy, said in an interview in Durban, South Africa, where more than 190 countries are gathered for United Nations-led climate negotiations.

The plan calls for stronger assurances from the U.S., China and other big emitters that they will live up to their voluntary pledges to cut emissions through 2020. Countries that may choose to stay in Kyoto after the first phase of cuts expires next year need such guarantees to politically justify their decision to remain in the pact, Groser said.

“We need to be able to go back to our own people, whether we live in France or New Zealand, and say we aren’t the only people doing something,” he said. “You will not carry public opinion if the debate is ‘you are the only idiots doing anything.’”

After nine days of meetings in the South African port city of Durban, diplomats from 192 nations and the European Union have made little progress on how to renew Kyoto, whose limits on fossil fuel emissions for industrialized countries lapse at the end of 2012. China wants industrial nations to sign up to further commitments under the pact.

‘Asking Too Much’

Japan, Russia and Canada say they won’t sign up for a second commitment period. The U.S. never ratified the treaty because it doesn’t require emissions cuts from big developing countries such as China and India.

Australia hasn’t said whether it will sign on for a second commitment period, and the EU says it will extend Kyoto only if all major emitters agree to forge a new legally binding treaty that includes all countries by 2015.

The EU’s position is understandable though may not be realistic, Groser said.

“At the end of the day you may be asking too much of China, India, Brazil and the U.S. to commit unequivocally to that,” he said.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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