Climate Change Minister Tim Groser has defended New Zealand's decision to drop out of the Kyoto treaty at global climate talks, describing the move as "ahead of the curve".
His comments came as new research showed it was now unlikely the goal of 2C of global warming above pre-industrial levels could be achieved, with the amount of heat-trapping pollution increasing 3 per cent worldwide last year.
Three weeks before the United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar, New Zealand decided not to commit to a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, which set binding carbon reduction goals for developed nations.
New Zealand instead committed to a non-binding framework which included the United States and major developing countries such as China, Brazil and India.
Mr Groser told international media yesterday that New Zealand was "ahead of the curve" in moving to the global climate pact. He did not see the point in committing to a treaty which represented less than 15 per cent of global emissions.
"You cannot seriously argue you are dealing with climate change unless you start to tackle the 85 per cent of emissions that are outside [Kyoto].
"We're looking beyond Kyoto now to where we think the real game is."
China was responsible for the vast majority of the growth in carbon emissions last year, a report published in Nature Climate Change yesterday showed.
It produced 26 per cent of global carbon emissions in the past year - about 10 billion tonnes. New Zealand emits about 70 million tonnes a year.
The Nature report concluded the chance of limiting global warming to 2C more than pre-industrial average was quickly fading.
Co-author of the study and executive director of the Global Carbon Project Dr Pep Canadell said: "Unless we change current emissions trends, this year is set to reach 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels ... we are on the way to an unrecognisable planet of 4 to 6 degrees warmer by the end of this century."
New Zealand was on target to meet its Kyoto obligations, but opposition parties felt its non-commitment to the treaty undermined the country's climate-change credentials.
As part of the new framework, New Zealand would not set a binding target but would make a voluntary pledge of 10 per cent to 20 per cent cuts by 2020, against 1990 levels.
Mr Groser said the Government would make a more specific pledge after the talks in Qatar.
He was investigating whether New Zealand could continue using Kyoto's trading mechanism for carbon credits. additional reporting: AP