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NZ Concerned At US Signals On Kyoto Protocol

New Zealand shares the grave concern disappointment of many other nations at recent statements from the Bush Administration indicating that the United States is considering abandoning the Kyoto Protocol, Pete Hodgson said today.

Mr Hodgson, the convenor of the New Zealand Ministerial Group on Climate Change, said New Zealand was still working towards ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in mid-2002, in consultation with sector groups and the wider public. It would be premature at this stage to consider a revised approach.

"Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Phil Goff will be in Washington next week to meet senior members of the Bush Administration, many of whom are closely involved with United States policy on climate change," said Mr Hodgson. "He will be setting out New Zealand's concerns very clearly and urging the United States to stay fully involved with international attempts to develop an effective response to climate change."

Mr Hodgson said he had personally made New Zealand's position clear to the senior American delegate at a meeting of the climate change 'Umbrella Group' of nations in Wellington last week. The group, which includes both New Zealand and the United States, is an informal network of nine developed countries that works on various aspects of climate change negotiations.

"Climate change cannot be dealt with by ignoring it," Mr Hodgson said. "The world needs the United States to engage with the international effort to find an effective response. This is an issue of global importance, which is why there has been no support to date for the latest statements from the US, but strong expressions of concern.

"If US oil interests are currently in the ascendancy, many other sectors of the US economy will be damaged by any moves to abandon the Kyoto Protocol. The insurance industry, the agriculture and forestry industries and any industry involved with innovative energy solutions will be disadvantaged. It will be interesting to see whether countervailing pressure emerges from those sectors."

Mr Hodgson is due to represent New Zealand at a gathering of key climate change negotiating parties in New York in April. The meeting is a preliminary to the resumption in Bonn in July of the World Conference on Climate Change that ended without agreement at The Hague last October.

Ends

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