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Climate Conference Failure Disappointing

Sunday, 26 November 2000

Climate Conference Failure Disappointing, But Not Final

Pete Hodgson, New Zealand's minister at the World Conference on Climate Change in The Hague, said today the failure of the conference to reach an agreement on implementing the Kyoto Protocol was disappointing but there was hope that more progress might be made at a supplementary meeting next year.

Mr Hodgson said the negotiations had ended in an intense session of about 26 hours in which a core group of countries tried to settle the differences between the European Union on one side and the United States, Canada and Japan on the other.

New Zealand was deeply involved until the end, in a middle position between the two camps.

"It is frustrating indeed that an agreement could not be reached, especially when one was so close," Mr Hodgson said. "The nations concerned have found a great deal of common ground in the past few days and moved much closer together than they were.

"There is likely to be a further meeting in the middle of next year to pick up where this conference left off. I believe there is substantial goodwill between the parties to continue the drive for an agreement.

"While this result is disappointing, it must be remembered that this is possibly the most complex international agreement ever attempted. The range of issues to be resolved simultaneously, by consensus, is so large that this conference simply ran out of time."

The crucial differences between the parties were over US-led attempts to widen the definitions for carbon sinks and European Union attempts to restrict the possible scope of international carbon trading.

New Zealand was critical of both approaches, arguing for environmental integrity in the definition of sinks and for unrestricted international trade in carbon credits. In occupying the middle ground it was able to help the attempts to broker an agreement.


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