New Zealand Won’t Join Australia in Kyoto Renewal, Says Minister

New Zealand will align climate efforts with the largest emitters such as the U.S. and China instead of committing to a second phase of the Kyoto agreement alongside Australia, said Climate Change Minister Tim Groser.

New Zealand will take its pledge under the United Nations Convention Framework, with countries responsible for 85 percent of the world’s emissions, the minister said in a statement today. That’s even as its closest and larger neighbor, Australia, today renewed its Kyoto commitment.

“I want to emphasize that New Zealand stands 100% behind its existing Kyoto Protocol Commitment,” Groser said in the statement. The government decided it was in “New Zealand’s best interests” to join the large majority of economies under the Convention, he said.

Australian Climate Change Minister Greg Combet today said the nation would join Europe in the second Kyoto phase, in a renewed and binding pledge to cut emissions.

Australia will link its emissions market starting in 2015 with the world’s largest cap-and-trade system in Europe, according to an Aug. 28 announcement. New Zealand yesterday passed changes to its emissions trading scheme which critics said weakened its obligations to reduce omissions.

“Not content yesterday to pass a law to gut New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme, the National Government is now out to undermine any international credibility the nation ever had on climate change,” Green Party spokesman Kennedy Graham said in an e-mailed statement today.

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