WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- New Zealand says it will not be signing up to a second commitment period on greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.
Instead, the government said, it would opt for a non-binding pledge under the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change.
The controversial action would put New Zealand's climate change efforts with a group of developed and developing countries responsible for 85 percent of global emissions, including the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil and Russia, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
"I want to emphasize that New Zealand stands 100-percent behind its existing Kyoto Protocol commitment," Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said in a statement.
"We are on track to achieving our target; indeed, we are forecasting a projected surplus of 23.1 million tons. Furthermore, we will remain full members of the Kyoto Protocol.
"There is no question of withdrawing. The issue was always different: where would we take our next commitment -- under the Kyoto Protocol or under the Convention with the large majority of economies?
"We have decided that it is New Zealand's best interests to do the latter," Groser said.
Opposition political parties and environmental groups have condemned the government's decision.
"In his statement Tim Groser talks about aligning with 'major economies' omitting that many other countries, and the European Union, are in the pro-Kyoto camp and want to take real action to combat climate change," Green Party climate change spokesperson Kennedy Graham said in a statement.