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High-level Statement Likely At Conference - Key

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Dec 14 NZPA - The best that can be hoped for from the Copenhagen climate change conference is a high-level political statement and a moral commitment from developed nations, Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key leaves tomorrow for the United Nations conference, where more than 100 world leaders will meet in a bid to thrash out a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It has been under way for a week at official and ministerial level, with a rift developing between developed and developing nations over who is responsible for emissions growth, how much they should be cut and who should pay.

The original aim of the conference was a binding international agreement, but that now seems unlikely.

"I think there will be a high-level political agreement but not a binding agreement," Mr Key said today at his post-cabinet press conference.

"I think that will leave a lot to be completed in 2010."

Mr Key said the divide between developed and developing countries had been clear for a long time.

"In the end, developed countries are expected to pay significant sums of money and they are expected to meet binding targets.

"The question is what responsibility rests with developing can't solve the problems of climate change, which is a global issue, unless China, India and Brazil are part of the solution because they are very large emitters."

Mr Key said political leaders were going to the conference to give it grunt and momentum.

"I don't think any of us are quite sure, but my sense is we will probably leave Copenhagen at the end of the week with a high-level agreement that climate change is a very important issue that needs to be addressed, with countries making a moral commitment to what they are putting on the table."

Work on details of a binding agreement and penalties for countries if they didn't meet their obligations would have to be done next year.

New Zealand's climate change policy includes an emissions trading scheme passed by Parliament last month.

The target for reducing emissions is not as ambitious as some other countries, but Mr Key said the Government was able to present a strong case.

Reduction targets are based on 1990 levels and Mr Key said New Zealand's emissions had increased 24 percent since then.

"If we were to achieve something in the order of 10 percent to 20 percent below (1990 levels) we would need a 34 percent to 44 percent reduction, and that's a big ask," he said.

"New Zealand has high population growth, a high starting point for renewable electricity generation and a lot of our emissions come from agriculture, so our position's not easy in terms of achieving larger cuts."

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