New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions have been steadily rising in recent years, new figures show.
The country committed in 2002 to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. But the latest information from the Ministry for the Environment shows that target was exceeded in all five years, though totals were lower than the country's peak in 2005.
The Kyoto Protocol allows countries to offset emissions, through initiatives that soak up greenhouse gases like the planting of forests. Over the five years, plantations have removed 71.6 million tonnes of carbon, just over the 70.7 million tonnes of emissions above the country's allowance.
Because of this and an abundance of carbon credits, the country will comfortably meet its Kyoto obligations, Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said
"The inventory shows our emissions gradually rising as New Zealand's economy and population grows.
"The Government is investing heavily in research that will support further reductions in agricultural emissions for the benefit of New Zealand and the world. This work will put us in a good position to meet our future targets."
The Government had an unconditional commitment to reduce emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, he said. The goal would require the country to produce almost a quarter less greenhouse gas compared to 2012, or offset the difference.
Groser said Government was also working towards a binding international agreement on emissions beyond 2020.
But Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the rise in total emissions showed the Government was failing to stem New Zealand's growing appetite for carbon.
"Projections show a massive increase in our net emissions, 50 per cent in the next ten years.
"We need to do our fair share when it comes to reducing our emissions. Our per capita emissions are well above the average for countries which made commitments under Kyoto."
Norman also criticised the National Government's handling of the country's emissions trading scheme, which was now "weakened to the point of redundancy".
- The Dominion Post
Was the weekend's rain welcome relief for your garden/farm?Related story: Yesterday's drizzle no drought breaker for Wellington, Hawke's Bay