Australia and New Zealand divided over 'Kyoto 2'

NEW Zealand has broken ranks with Australia and refused to sign up to a second round of the Kyoto Protocol.

New Zealand Climate Change Minister Tim Grosser said on Friday afternoon the country would instead focus on global talks to try draw up a replacement deal for Kyoto by 2015, which if successful would take effect in  2020.

The announcement comes just hours after Climate Change Minister Greg Combet announced Australia was ready to sign up to Kyoto 2 with a handful of conditions.

It leaves Australia joining the European Union and just a handful of other major greenhouse gas emitters in recommitting to the world's only climate treaty.

New Zealand joins other wealthy and high greenhouse gas emitting countries Japan, Canada, Russia and the USA in not signing up.

In a statement Mr Grosser said the New Zealand Government was well aware of Australia's decision.

''Australia currently has a different set of domestic policies in place, at least until 2015, when the fixed price regime is intended to be replaced by an emissions trading scheme. We will continue to work closely with our Australian colleagues on climate change matters,'' Mr Grosser said.

New Zealand has its own domestic emissions trading scheme, though it differs in design to Australia's carbon price.

Mr Combet announced Australia's decision on Friday in Melbourne, saying there has been sufficient progress in international talks to make the commitment, with some conditions.

Mr Combet said Australia would accept a target under ''Kyoto 2'' in line with the current unconditional five per cent cut to emissions by 2020 on 2000 levels.

But he said that would not preclude Australia from accepting a more ambitious 2020 target if the all major countries signed up to a strong global deal.

In a largely political speech to a carbon conference in Melbourne, a fired up Mr Combet also hit out at Mr Abbott for running a ''deceitful'' scare campaign against the carbon price.

He said Mr Abbott was being found out on his claims about the economic impacts of the carbon price as people experience it for themselves after its introduction on July 1.

Mr Abbott has vowed to repeal Labor's carbon price scheme if he wins next year's federal election. He has also committed to calling a double dissolution election if it is blocked from repeal in the Parliament.

A fired-up Mr Combet said on Friday it would not be feasible for the Coalition to repeal the carbon tax. He committed Labor to defending the policy all the way to the 2013 election.''I am angry about the way Tony Abbott has set about deceiving people,'' he said.

''But we are now in a position where people can judge on their own experience with the carbon place. And I don't believe people will be conned.

''Given everything he is saying about this issue, to be frank about it so you don't misunderstand anything I am saying, is complete bullshit. Is he really going to go to a double dissolution election on this issue when you are found out on these things?''

Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt will address the conference this afternoon to outline the Coalition's alternative 'direct action' climate plan.

The Kyoto Protocol was first negotiated by countries in 1997 and required wealthy nations to limit their emission of greenhouse gases. It is due to expire at the end of this year.

Through UN climate change negotiations, countries have agreed to work on a replacement treaty. If successful, it would be agreed by 2015 and take effect in 2020. Unlike Kyoto, it would include emissions targets for wealthy nations and developing nations such as China and India.

To date only the European Union and a handful of other small developed nations have signed up to Kyoto 2, which will likely operate between 2013 and when a new agreement comes into effect.

The Coalition has already given in-principle backing for Australia signing up to a second round of Kyoto, with Mr Hunt having said it would help pave the way for a post-2020 outcome.

The Climate Institute's Erwin Jackson said "the government's decision will help bolster international efforts to secure a new legally binding agreement to cover all major emitters by 2015".

In a statement British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey said: "This is an extremely welcome announcement from Australia and for the first time expands international commitment beyond Europe. Having Australia on board will really help to push the second Kyoto Protocol period which is vital to maintaining agreed rules to cut global emissions as we make the transition to a new, global, legally binding deal."

Australia's support for a second Kyoto round comes with conditions, including progress on a post-2020 deal and a desire that the second round last until 2020, rather than 2017 as some developing nations proposed.

Canberra also wants rules letting it carry over some or all of about 80 million tonnes of surplus carbon permits under the protocol's first round, which let it increase emissions by 8 per cent between 1990 and 2012. The carry-over permits could then count towards Australia's 2020 emissions target.

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