Wellington, Dec 15 NZPA - Climate negotiations minister Tim Groser has defended the Government's call for better treatment of agricultural emissions in the next global climate treaty.
Mr Groser is leading New Zealand's delegation in Poznan, Poland, at a conference that aims to lay the groundwork for negotiations on a climate treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires industrial countries to cut emissions by an average 5 percent from 1990 levels.
Last week he laid out New Zealand's position for the talks, saying he would be negotiating aggressively to achieve better rules governing agriculture, which contributes about half of the country's emissions.
He said New Zealand had a small population which raised public transport issues; an already high proportion of renewable electricity generation meaning scope for gains was small and an already efficient agriculture sector.
But the Government's stance has come under fire from non-government organisations which say seeking "favourable" treatment for agricultural emissions runs the risk of weakening the whole agreement and establishing New Zealand as an "international climate pariah".
"Negotiations on deeper cuts for developed countries now won't start in earnest until June 2009, largely due to the efforts by New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Japan, who fought every move to make headway on this issue," Greenpeace campaigner Simon Boxer said at the weekend.
But Mr Groser today said a simplistic solution that heavily penalised New Zealand for increased agricultural production would be counterproductive.
In New Zealand's case it could not really be done without cutting production, which meant other less carbon efficient countries would take up the slack -- worsening global emissions.
Agricultural emissions were a small problem for most developed countries, but a much bigger problem for developing countries, he said.
Without fairer rules the treaty risked scaring off developing countries, which emitted over half of the world's greenhouse gases.
"It's very important that people don't see this as special treatment for New Zealand," he said on Radio New Zealand.
" You will never get developing countries to agree to something that imperils their food security.
"So the answer cannot just be to cut back production. We need something a little bit more subtle," he said.
"This is not special pleading for New Zealand. This is taking account of some fundamental realities that I think in the original architecture of Kyoto have been glossed over."
NGOs had been expecting too much from the Poznan talks, which were never really intended as a negotiating meeting, he said.
The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, and its a successor accord is due to be finished next December in Copenhagen, Denmark. It will then be submitted to the countries for ratification.
The UN Climate Change secretariat, hosting the talks of more than 10,000 delegates, said a separate committee had reached agreement on a work plan for next year calling for a negotiating text to be put on the table next June.
The conference closed yesterday (NZT) in contention over a proposal to raise what could amount to billions of dollars for poor countries by levying a tax on carbon trading among the world's wealthy nations.
Developing nations put forward a proposal for a 2 percent levy on transactions on developed countries' emissions trading schemes to help pay for mitigation measures against the effects of climate change in the third world.
But it was shot down with rich countries saying they were not ready to make a decision.
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