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National’s Kyoto decision causing backlash at Doha

“New Zealand is being shamed on the international stage every day here in Doha and we can no longer hold our heads high for our approach on climate change."

The National Government's decision to reject making meaningful commitments to reduce New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions has raised the risk of New Zealand being locked out of international carbon markets.

"New Zealand is being shamed on the international stage every day here in Doha and we can no longer hold our heads high for our approach on climate change," said Green Party climate change spokesperson Kennedy Graham, who is at the United Nations international climate change talks.

The National Government last month announced New Zealand would not to sign up to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement with binding obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The first commitment period stops at the end of the year. Australia, and 36 other countries, intend to sign up again.

"The National Government has gutted the Emissions Trading Scheme aimed at reducing emissions and has also failed to make binding commitments to achieve reductions," Dr Graham said.

"There are serious concerns being raised by countries which are signing up to the second commitment period, that New Zealand is trying to free-load by accessing international carbon markets after refusing to accept the same legal obligations as Europeans and Australians.

"Official attendees at the conference are being diplomatic but many have made it clear that they find it a bit rich for New Zealand to fail to pull its weight by signing up to binding reductions but wanting to retain all the benefits.

"The National Ministers here will be pushing to change the Kyoto rules so New Zealand can have its cake and eat it. It seems that Climate Change Minister Tim Groser's idea of New Zealand doing its fair share is for others to do the work and for New Zealand to reap the benefit.

"Wouldn't it be ironic if New Zealand is shut out of the international carbon trading systems which would see the price of carbon here soar? The National Government could, by accident, actually restore some of the point to the ETS.

"However, if the price of carbon were to increase, I'm sure that this National Government will be on hand to immediately change the law so polluters don't have to pay. That cost would again be loaded on the taxpayer.

"New Zealand has now received five fossil awards for our climate failures, while the most senior UN Nations climate change figure, Christiana Figueres, has described New Zealand's position on Kyoto as very disappointing.

"The National Government downplays its decision not to make Kyoto commitments but that decision has dismayed some who once saw New Zealand as an ally in the fight to combat climate change," Dr Graham said.

"To quote one source here at Doha yesterday: 'New Zealand will need to make a choice - is it serious about climate change, or does it wish to be singled out as an obstacle to progress?'

"It seems the National Government has already made its choice," Dr Graham said.

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