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NZ Pioneers New Climate Change Initiative With UN

New Zealand Pioneers New Climate Change Initiative With United Nations

By Andreas von Warburg, Reporting from New York

New Zealand is one of the pioneering founders of the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), a bold new initiative to address climate change and the urgent need to de-carbonize the global economy. The country has joined the United Nations and three other countries, four cities and five corporations to launch one of the most promising projects to fight global warming and preserve our planet in the best possible way.

Launched on February 22 2008 in Monaco by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with the UN's Environment Management Group, CN Net is one inspiring solution to the challenge of rising greenhouse gases and a way to federate the small but growing wave of nations, local authorities and companies who are pledging to significantly reduce emissions en route to zero emission economies, communities and businesses.

"The development of the Climate Neutral Network signifies a major step forward in creating a coordinated global response to climate change,” said David Parker, Minister for Climate Change of New Zealand. “I am proud that New Zealand is a founding member of the Climate Neutral Network. As a signatory we are leading the way in actively laying out strategies to become carbon neutral.”

Parker said the creation of the network recognizes that global economic growth and well-being sit alongside a clean and healthy environment. “It also recognizes that climate change is an issue of the highest concern to the United Nations,” he underlined.

The Network, a web-based project, is a truly global information exchange network open to all sectors of society from Presidents, Prime Ministers and Princes to people from small towns in developing and industrialized countries. All, from intergovernmental bodies, to civil society groups and eventually individuals, will be invited to take part in the coming months.

"Climate neutrality is an idea whose time has come, driven by the urgent need to address climate change but also the abundant economic opportunities emerging for those willing to embrace a transition to a Green Economy," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. "This new initiative supports the formal negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Here governments need to navigate the Bali Road Map to a successful conclusion in Copenhagen in 2009. The CN Net can assist in building confidence through demonstrable action at the national and local level on the art of the possible."

Steiner underline the potential of the new initiative as a way to mobilize a broad-based response and have beneficial lasting effects on our planet. “A transition to a low, even zero, carbon future can be a reality if inspiring and practical actions can be federated around the world," he said. “The CN Net is […] in for the long haul.”

Apart from New Zealand, the first four countries to have joined UNEP’s project are Costa Rica, Iceland, and Norway. The four founder cities are Arendal in Norway, Rizhao in China, Vancouver in Canada, and Växjö in Sweden. The five initial companies are UK’s Co-Operative Financial Services, Interface Inc of the US, Brazil’s Natura, Soth Africa’s Nedbank, and Singapore’s Senoko Power. They all represent a diversity of challenges and opportunities which have the potential to be replicated by others in whole or in part.

New Zealand is aspiring to climate neutrality through a wide range of domestic initiatives including a trading scheme covering all sectors of the economy and all six greenhouse gases regulated under the Kyoto Protocol.

The country has set itself the target of generating 90 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and halving per capita transport emissions by 2040 by introducing electric cars and a requirement to use bio fuels. Meanwhile six government agencies will be aiming to achieve full neutrality by 2012. Where emissions cannot be cut they will be offset through forest regeneration projects on tribal lands.

New Zealand, which will host World Environment Day 2008 under the theme 'Kick the C02 Habit", is paying particular attention to emissions from agriculture. Some 40,000 farms account for 50 per cent of the country's greenhouse gases versus around 12 per cent from agriculture in most developed countries.


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