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NZ scores mid-range on carbon count

New Zealand has recorded its lowest carbon dioxide emission count from burning fossil fuel in 13 years, according to new figures released in Britain.

In 2011, NZ emitted 31 million tonnes of carbon, equal to 7.1 tonnes per person, researchers at the University of East Anglia found.

The figures place NZ in a band of countries, including several from the European Union, which are in the process of adopting alternate methods of energy generation.

"While NZ is well-placed in this latest global assessment ... what is lacking at the moment is innovation in technology and policy which could drive emissions down further," director of the University's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research Corinne Le Quere told NZN.

"Low-carbon technology requires investment up front and the role of legislation in that is extremely important.

"Agricultural emissions, methane, are an area (NZ) could look at to introduce new practices."

The new data, published on Monday as part of a report in online journal Nature Climate Change, named China (28 per cent), the United States (16 per cent), the European Union (11 per cent) and India (seven per cent) as the biggest contributors to global carbon emissions.

NZ's contribution to the 2011 global total was 0.09 per cent, researchers found.

However, while emissions in China and India grew, the increases did not match booming population growth. The US and EU posted a reduction on 2010 figures.

Report authors warned the world will experience a record high 35.6 billion tonnes of carbon output in 2012.

The projected 2.6 per cent increase on 2011 takes output from burning fossil fuels to 58 per cent above 1990 levels, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol.

"With emissions continuing to grow, it's as if no one is listening to the entire scientific community," Prof Le Quere said.

"I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory. We need a radical plan."