New Zealand has set a target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by between 10 and 20 percent from 1990 levels, the government announced Monday, according to press reports.
The target, which falls short of demands by environmentalists, would be met by reducing domestic emissions, expanding forests and buying emission reductions from other nations.
Prime Minister John Key said the country had a long way to go if it was to fulfil the pledge.
“It seeks to balance our economic opportunities with our environmental responsibility,” he said, in comments reported by the New Zealand Press Association.
“The target is going to be a big ask for New Zealand because our gross emissions are already 24 per cent above our 1990 levels,” Key said.
The announcement forms part of Wellington’s bargaining position in talks scheduled for the end of the year in Copenhagen, when nations will meet to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto protocol.
New Zealand will cut its emissions by 10 percent if other developed nations sign a comprehensive treaty and by 20 percent if developing countries also get on board.
Environmental group Greenpeace has been campaigning for New Zealand to slash its emissions by 40 percent, but Key rejected this call, saying the economic and social cost would be unacceptable.
Business groups had urged the government to set a target below 10 percent, while opposition parties said the announcement did not go far enough.
Green Party MP Jeanette Fitzsimons said more needed to be done before the year-end international meeting.
“Our opening bid is too low. Hopefully, New Zealanders will convince the government to up its game as the negotiations progress towards Copenhagen. This debate has only just begun, and it’s time we had a real conversation about what is possible,” she said.