By Alex Tarrant
The government's decision to not sign up to a second Kyoto commitment, and instead set its own climate change rules, comes down partly to the quest for jobs growth, Prime Minister John Key says.
But New Zealand's image was still important, meaning New Zealand still had to do its fair share in the area, Key said on TVNZ's Breakfast programme on Monday morning.
"I wouldn’t say we’re backing out of Kyoto. What we’re doing is going down a track that a lot of other countries – in fact the vast majority – are going down. That’s called the convention track," Key said.
“Next year New Zealand will name a binding commitment to climate change. We’ll actually have a physical rate that we’re going to hit. But instead of being in what’s called the second commitment period, which will likely run from 2012 to 2020, we’ll essentially be able to set our own rules outside that," he said.
"Now, 85% of countries are in that space, including the United States and Canada, and the big emitters like China and India. I think that makes sense for New Zealand to be sitting there. The [other] 15% are really only Europe and Australia."
The government wanted changes to some of the rules governing the Kyoto framework.
"That’s really around land use and things like that," Key said.
“Certainly our view is, we are a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of world emissions. Now, New Zealand needs to play its part. It is playing its part – it’s already got an emissions trading scheme, made quite a number of other changes. We are there doing things about climate change," he said.
“But I think we never want to be a world leader in climate change, we’ve always wanted to be what was affectionately called a fast follower at one point.”
'Image matters, but we want jobs'
The previous Labour government may have put a stronger emphasis on the matter.
“My government takes a view that we want to pay our fair share, do our part, make sure we’re sensible in this area. Our image does matter, and what we do environmentally matters a great deal," Key said.
“But we also want jobs and we also want to make sure that we’re not prioritising that [climate change] over everything else. I think we’ve got that balance about right," he said.
“It’s not like we’re not going to do anything. When we go off to Doha, which is where the negotiation’s taking place now, [Ministers] Tim Groser and Simon Bridges will be arguing very strongly about the sort of changes that we want to see."