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Hague Negotiations Reach Endgame

Pete Hodgson, New Zealand's minister at the World Conference on Climate Change in the Hague, says the negotiations have reached "the beginning of the endgame" but the prospects for an agreement are still uncertain.

Mr Hodgson was commenting at the end of the fourth day of ministerial-level negotiations, with two days to go. The ministerial negotiations this week were preceded by a week of officials meetings last week.

Today the Dutch Environment Minister and chairperson of the Hague meeting, Jan Pronk, has tabled a 14-page proposal in an attempt to secure an agreement.

"Mr Pronk's proposal has many elements of wisdom and elegance," Mr Hodgson said.

"New Zealand has two major concerns with the proposal and the state of negotiations around it.

"We are not yet convinced that the proposed rules on carbon sink credits for land use and forestry have sufficient environmental integrity. Our concern is that the rules would allow coun tries to selectively count credits for land use projects or activities that deliver no new benefit to the atmosphere. This has become a point of difference between New Zealand and nations including the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia.

"New Zealand's other major concern is with attempts by some nations, particularly the European Union nations, to restrict the possible scope of international trading in carbon credits. New Zealand has rejected these proposals, but it seems possible at this stage that an acceptable compromise may emerge."

New Zealand had a very strong, competent and internationally well-regarded negotiating team at the Hague, Mr Hodgson said. Officials, private sector representatives and non-governmental organisation representatives in the New Zealand party were working well together.

"Some of the protests at the negotiations have been temporarily disruptive, but most have been very well organised, imaginative and often very funny. They have definitely kept the delegates' minds on the job."


Ends

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