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New Zealand to ratify Kyoto Protocol by Christmas

Date: 15-Nov-02
Country: NEW ZEALAND

The protocol's ratification was a campaign promise of the minority, centre-left, Labour-led coalition government in the mid-year general election but it needed the support of the Green Party to ensure final passage.

"The government will ratify the Protocol soon...In doing so we will join the majority of developed nations, including many of our trading partners," Energy Minister Pete Hodgson said.

A spokesman for Hodgson said the ratification would take place "certainly before Christmas".

The 1997 Kyoto pact aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the developed world, which account for the overwhelming bulk of the gases, by 2012 to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.

New Zealand opposition political parties and some business groups have opposed ratification while major trading partners, including the United States and Australia, remain outside the agreement

So far, 98 nations have ratified the controversial protocol, which needs at least 55 states contributing at least 55 percent of the industrialised world's 1990 greenhouse gas emissions to come into force.

The United States, the world's biggest polluter has refused to ratify the protocol because of fears it will damage its economy, but the agreement is expected to come into force next year when the Russian Federation ratifies it.

New Zealand produces between 70 million to 90 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. About half of its greenhouse gases come from the methane and carbon dioxide emissions of more than 50 million sheep and cattle, whose products earn around one-third of New Zealand's export earnings.

The government announced plans last month for a carbon tax to be levied sometime after 2007, which will raise energy prices between six and 19 percent.

However, New Zealand expects to earn as much as NZ$1.4 billion ($696 million) from carbon sink credits generated by its vast commercial forest plantations.

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