A New Zealand proposal for how to navigate a new international agreement on climate change has won support from a leading US official.

The proposal, submitted to the UN in March, makes suggestions for handling negotiations ahead of the 2014 UN Climate Change Conference in Lima and 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Speaking at Yale University on Tuesday, US State Department Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern praised New Zealand's proposal.

"We think the most interesting proposal on the table is New Zealand's," he said.


"There would be a legally binding obligation to submit a 'schedule' for reducing emissions, plus various legally binding provisions for accounting, reporting, review, periodic updating of the schedules, etc. But the content of the schedule itself would not be legally binding at an international level."

The UN has described New Zealand's submission as putting weight on a common set of rules but with flexibility for countries to adapt their commitments to their circumstances.

New Zealand climate researcher Dr Jim Salinger said while he would welcome the initiative, New Zealand "must also first put its house in order".

He said New Zealand must first agree to its own legally-binding scheme for "robust" emission cuts, and a timetable to make sure cuts are achieved.

"Without a base to lead off, such a proposal will look facile and self serving."

Victoria University's Climate Change Research Institute director Professor David Frame said the proposal would help improve participation in the new deal.

"The accounting and review provisions would position the international community well to move on compliance as things firm up in the future," he said.

"Given that participation and compliance were the main problems with the Kyoto Protocol, addressing these aspects of climate policy is of crucial importance.


"So I think we should see this as an encouraging development since, if accepted, it would establish the precedent of all countries making contributions to addressing climate change."

About 200 governments are expected to meet in Paris in December 2015 to agree on a new universal agreement to slow rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the full New Zealand submission and press release from the UN.
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