LONDON, May 2 - Australia and New Zealand have missed a deadline to set post-2012 emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol, with both governments saying they will decide whether to continue to be legally bound to cut emissions of seven greenhouse gases later this year.
Countries intending to sign up to a second round of targets under the 1997 treaty were scheduled to notify the U.N. by Tuesday.
But Australia and New Zealand, both of which plan to launch emissions trading schemes and have been tipped to take on fresh legal targets from 2013, failed to meet that deadline.
The EU and several other nations have already indicated they will set a post-2012 legally-binding target, but Canada, Russia and Japan, three big emitters with current Kyoto goals, have said they will not.
Australia said it will make a decision only after U.N. parties agree on how long the second Kyoto period would last and how many surplus Kyoto permits can be transferred from the first phase.
“In considering whether to join a second commitment period and submit a (target), Australia is carefully examining the interaction between Australia’s legislated policy settings and new international rules,” its submission to the U.N. said.
“We look forward to a clearer picture emerging from the outcomes of (U.N. climate talks) leading up to Doha,” New Zealand said in a document published on the U.N. website, referring to the next high-level climate summit to start in November.
New Zealand said it needs “full clarity” on the rules and how these relate to the emission reduction measures it is ready to do domestically.
Both countries stressed that they have set 2020 emission goals that are not legally-binding internationally.
Australia has agreed national laws to cut greenhouse gas output 5-25 percent below 2000 levels, while New Zealand has a “responsibility target” to reduce emissions by 10 to 20 percent below 1990 levels.
U.N. climate negotiators will gather on May 14-25 in Bonn, Germany, to resume talks on issues including the length and stringency of Kyoto 2 targets and the accounting of emissions from forestry.
Over 35 so-called industrialized nations pledged to sign up to a second Kyoto target at U.N. climate talks in Durban last year.
The new deal will legally bind those countries to cut emissions from 2013 until either 2017 or 2020.
China, India and the U.S., the world’s three biggest emitters, are not bound by Kyoto, but have pledged to sign a new deal to take effect after 2020, after their voluntary emission reduction goals expire.
Reporting by Marton Kruppa