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Weather Woes Highlight Kyoto Urgency

New Zealand's washout of a summer has at least served to reinforce the necessity of the Government honouring its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, Green Party Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"Record rainfalls around the country have ruined the summer for holidaymakers, farmers and tourists," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"In my own neighbourhood, Coromandel's Kauaeranga Valley, I have witnessed the misery caused by severe flooding, slips and road washouts and the destruction of at least one orchardist's livelihood as fruit trees and road access were swept away."

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that rising emissions of greenhouse gases are at least partially responsible for the extreme conditions buffeting many parts of the world.

"Yet some sector groups in this country are still campaigning for the Government to soften its commitment to the protocol, despite the fact that the damage inflicted by extreme weather conditions far outweighs the costs of ratification."

In the last month, Federated Farmers has warned members that climate change is underway; the Insurance Council has said extreme weather around the globe is likely to result in increased premiums and millions of New Zealanders have experienced for themselves an abnormal summer.

"There can be no question of this country's vulnerability to extreme weather," said Ms Fitzsimons, "given our reliance on primary production, tourism and hydro-electricity.

"The challenge is for New Zealand to show the world that it is willing to do something about it.

"The Green Party urges the Government to stand up the special pleading of those who do not wish to pay for the damage they are doing, and to proceed with full ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the first step in trying to mitigate climate disaster."


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