The Government's decision not to commit to the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change is disappointing and leaves New Zealand's reputation in tatters, an environmental lobby group says.
Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said yesterday the Government had decided it would not sign up for the second commitment period of Kyoto, and instead opt for the United Nation's Convention Framework, following the lead of major economies such as the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil and Russia.
Mr Groser said New Zealand would remain full members of the Kyoto Protocol but would make its climate change commitments under the convention.
WWF New Zealand spokesman Peter Hardstaff said they were disappointed the Government was not prepared to commit to legally binding action on climate change.
"Refusing sign up to the second phase of Kyoto leaves New Zealand's claims to be clean and green in tatters," Mr Hardstaff said.
"The Government's approach to climate policy is effectively telling the world we have no intention of reducing our emissions."
The Government's decision means New Zealand is breaking ranks with Australia, which will ratify the next protocol phase after the current agreement expires at the end of this year.
Labour's climate change spokeswoman Moana Mackey said to pull out of Kyoto the same day that Australia committed was humiliating, and showed the Government was not taking climate change seriously.
"There is no longer an effective tool for limiting our gross carbon emissions, which is a blow to our carbon forestry sector and damaging to the important 100% Pure brand."