New Zealand's proposal to tackle climate change on an international scale is seen as "the only game in town" by the United States, Climate Change Minister Tim Groser says.
Speaking ahead of his attendance at the UN climate change conference in Lima, which continues until December 12, Mr Groser said he was taking a "hard line" approach to the talks, saying any deal "will be based on the underlying concepts of the New Zealand proposal or there won't be a deal".
The proposal would ensure countries have to set emissions targets, but they would not be legally bound to meet those targets.
Speaking on TV3's The Nation this morning, Mr Groser said the US was "serious" about climate change, but would never agree to a different set of rules from China.
"The United States Administration has described New Zealand's proposal, essentially, as the only game in town," he said.
"So the problem here is this. China, which is now the world's largest emitter, although doing very serious things now in this space, is never going to commit to meeting a target and if it fails, be accountable legally for failing to do this. They will, however, do serious stuff. Therefore, the United States, given the Congress, will never agree to a different legal structure to China.
"So my view, and it's a real hard-line view here, I think it's a black and white situation. This deal will be based on the underlying concepts of the New Zealand proposal or there won't be a deal."
The National Government was still working on setting new emissions targets for New Zealand, which won't be ready until the middle of next year, Mr Groser said. The current targets of a 5 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020, and a 50 per cent reduction by 2050, were on target to being met, he said.
The theory behind the Kyoto Protocol "that the developed countries will take a step forward and the other countries would be so impressed with this that they'd follow suit" had not worked, Mr Groser said.
"Exactly the opposite has happened. What they've done is put all the moral and political pressure of climate change on essentially the European Union plus a few countries like New Zealand, which joined the Kyoto Protocol.
"No, the absolute essence of this is to capture far more countries in the new long-term agreement."
However, it was unlikely a concrete deal would be made in Lima, Mr Groser said.
"What I hope to see, and I'm sorry to sound like a diplomat or a negotiator, is serious incremental progress towards a deal that we can cap off in Paris in 2015."
Paris will hold the UN climate conference from November 30 to December 11 next year, with the aim of achieving a legally binding and global agreement to tackle climate change.