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The government will not commit to a second round of the Kyoto Protocol, climate change Minister Tim Groser has announced.
It will instead sign up to the United Nations convention framework from January 1, 2013.
Mr Groser says the government will still honour its existing Kyoto commitments.
"We will remain full members of the Kyoto Protocol. There is no question of withdrawing."
New Zealand has broken ranks with Australia, which is committing to the second round.
He says the move to the UN convention aligns New Zealand with other major economies such as the US, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil and Russia.