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Key Says He Hopes Copenhagen Will Make A Difference

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Dec 3 NZPA - Prime Minister John Key says he did a U-turn about going to the climate change conference in Copenhagen because he believes gathering political momentum could mean the presence of leaders could make a difference to the outcome.

Mr Key had originally not intended to go the United Nations talks because he saw it as a "photo opportunity" where any firm conclusions on a binding international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would not be reached.

However, pressure built for him to attend as other leaders including United States President Barack Obama announced they were attending. World leaders are facing increased pressure to take a stand and force through an agreement.

This morning Mr Key confirmed he would go to the conference which will be held on December 17 and 18.

"The landscape has changed considerably in the last three weeks," Mr Key said.

"While I don't think there will be a binding agreement in Copenhagen, there's every chance now that political progress will be made and I wouldn't have wanted to give the wrong impression by my absence that somehow New Zealand wasn't committed to the fight against climate change because we absolutely are."

Mr Key said he had been advised that it now could make a difference for more world leaders to be there.

"They are a little more hopeful that progress will be made and given we have got nearly 100 leaders worldwide going it would have been a bit odd if I hadn't gone."

The main work would still be done by negotiators in the weeks running up to the leaders meeting on the last day and a half, but that final meeting could add political momentum.

A final binding agreement was unlikely to come out of Copenhagen, but it could result in a general agreement with the details finalised in 2010.

Labour's climate change spokesman Charles Chauvel welcomed Mr Key's "belated" decision but questioned the advice he had been getting on climate change,

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith had advised that Australia would have an emissions trading scheme in place and New Zealand's needed to aligned with this, he said.

Australia's had now collapsed due to a lack of political support.

Mr Key said he was sure Australia would eventually get an ETS.

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