New Zealand rules out using ‘Kyoto credits’ for Paris, Australia shtum


New Zealand's Climate Change Minister James Shaw has ruled out his nation using carryover credits to count against its Paris climate target, saying such a move would make it challenging for the world to meet the important goal of reducing emissions.

Mr Shaw made the comments to Australasian journalists in a conference call on Tuesday after meeting his Australian counterpart Melissa Price during the climate talks in Katowice, Poland.

Protesters take over a stage to protest a pro-coal event at the COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland.

Protesters take over a stage to protest a pro-coal event at the COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland.Credit:AP

As the Herald has reported, Ms Price and her environment department have refused to exclude use of any surplus credit generated during the soon-to-be concluded Kyoto Protocol against Australia's Paris emissions pledges.

Federal Labor also said it won't rule out the use of Kyoto credits until it has received advice.


Ms Price has put the projected surplus at the equivalent of 294 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, but consultancy institute Climate Analytics says the final Kyoto "overachievement" could reach 400 million tonnes.

Either way, a large share of Australia's 2020-30 carbon mitigation effort – perhaps half – could be met with such credits.

Mr Shaw declined to detail his talks with Ms Price. He said, however, it was his government's view no nation should resort to a prior period "surplus" to count against Paris goals. New Zealand would not do so "if we have any units left over".

"Paris is a completely new legal construct," Mr Shaw said, adding it was "never intended" for Kyoto credits to be carried over.

"We would discourage any country from using [them]," he said.

Low ranking

Mr Shaw's comments come as Australia was named 55th out of 60 nations on a Climate Change Performance Index compiled by Germanwatch, a non-government agency. Saudi Arabia and the US occupied the bottom rankings, while Sweden and Morocco topped the list.

Australia scored particularly poorly for its national climate policy and per capita greenhouse gas emissions – at more than 16 tonnes of CO2 a year – both ranked second-worst.

The Paris target – in which the Abbott government set at reducing 2005 levels of carbon pollution to 26 per cent by 2030 – was rated 12th among the 60 nations.

Tim Baxter, a researcher at Australian-German Climate and Energy College and Melbourne Law School, said it was likely Australia would try to get international backing to use Kyoto credits – and it might succeed.

"Our negotiators have proven incredibly successful in the history of the UN [Framework Convention on Climate Change]," Mr Baxter said. "We play that game like a master. And while the international community is not keen on letting Kyoto credits into Paris, I have full confidence in our negotiators ability to squeeze them in.''

A spokesman for Minister Price said: "We wont be discussing details of any ministerial meetings held over here".

Peter Hannam is Environment Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald. He covers broad environmental issues ranging from climate change to renewable energy for Fairfax Media.

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