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Trans-Tasman action on climate change

Thursday, 11 December 2003 Media Statement

Trans-Tasman action on climate change

The Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, Pete Hodgson, and the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, David Kemp, today announced details of the first projects to be undertaken under the Australia-New Zealand Bilateral Climate Change Partnership.

The Partnership, formally announced by the two governments in July this year, aims to focus on concrete ways to address climate change, particularly at a regional level. The first Partnership projects include:
- work to enhance climate monitoring and prediction in the South-West Pacific Region;
- measures to facilitate local government engagement and action on greenhouse gas abatement and other climate change issues;
- the development of common energy efficiency regulatory requirements;
- measures to develop a better understanding of Australian/New Zealand climate variability and predictability;
- analysis of past climate behaviour at a regional level to help model future climate change scenarios; and
- collaborative work to reduce emissions of synthetic greenhouse gases.

Dr Kemp said Australia and New Zealand recognised that climate change was a serious and long-term challenge requiring a strong response.

"Climate change is a reality and both our countries, and our regional neighbours, are vulnerable to its effects. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to work together to find practical and effective ways to tackle climate change – today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to taking action."

Mr Hodgson said Australia and New Zealand had a common interest in developing effective responses to climate change.

"Australia and New Zealand already cooperate extensively on a broad range of issues and closer engagement on climate change is an important further development in the Trans-Tasman relationship."

The Ministers also announced that Climate Change and Business: The Australia-New Zealand Conference and Trade Expo 2004, jointly sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand Governments, would be held in Auckland next November. This high-level international conference will profile business opportunities arising from responses to climate change. More information is available on the conference website: www.climateandbusiness.com

Both Ministers are in Milan, Italy, at the ninth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (COP9).

Further details of the projects to be undertaken under the Australia-New Zealand Bilateral Climate Change Partnership are attached.


Background

Australia and New Zealand are signatories to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Both countries are strongly supportive of effective international action to address climate change and work together on areas of common interest, as indicated in their shared membership of the ‘Umbrella Group’ in international negotiations.

Australia is committed to, and within striking distance of its Kyoto target and has a comprehensive $1 billion domestic climate change program. The Australia Government is also developing a long-term forward strategy on climate change. The Australian Greenhouse Office leads climate change policy development and delivers programs to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Further information can be found at www.greenhouse.gov.au

New Zealand ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 10 December 2002. The NZ Climate Change Office at the Ministry for the Environment is leading the implementation of the climate change policy package and coordinating a whole of government programme on climate change. Key initiatives under way include Negotiated Greenhouse Agreements with energy-intensive businesses and the Projects to Reduce Emissions programme, which offers Kyoto Protocol emission units to projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fifteen projects have recently been selected in the programme's first tender round. Further information can be found at www.climatechange.govt.nz

Australia-New Zealand Bilateral Cooperation on Climate Change
First Projects

Regional Climate Information System in the Pacific

The project aims to better integrate a range of existing climate monitoring, prediction and information-sharing activities, currently being undertaken through agencies such as the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research, to further enhance climate change science and monitoring in the South-West Pacific Region. The project should also lead to the establishment of a formal Regional Climate Information System (RCIS) for the South-West Pacific region.

The work aims to increase the capacity of Pacific Island countries to undertake climate monitoring and prediction, and build greater regional cooperation in addressing the challenges posed by climate change.


Local Government Engagement Through Voluntary Programs

The project aims to facilitate local government action on greenhouse gas abatement, and responses to the impacts of climate change, through voluntary programs such as the Australian Cool Communities program and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’ Cities for Climate Protection program. Cool Communities encourages and helps households to identify changes and make choices that help communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cities for Climate Protection is an international program that supports councils to develop greenhouse solutions at the local level. These programs are already well established in Australia – more than 180 local governments representing more than 70 per cent of the Australian population are currently involved in Cities for Climate Protection (CCPTM). A similar voluntary abatement program is shortly to be introduced in New Zealand in partnership with local councils and their communities.

Under the initiative, Australia and New Zealand will share information and materials, cooperate in developing new materials (particularly on engaging rural and regional communities, and adapting to the impacts of climate change), and create opportunities for councils in both countries to network and share experiences.

Under this project, a common work plan will be undertaken to reduce the differences in regulatory standards that currently exist between Australia and New Zealand relating to the energy efficiency of domestic appliances and commercial/industrial equipment. The initiative aims to make it easier for manufacturers/suppliers to meet their regulatory requirements, provide greater certainty for consumers, and maximise environmental benefits. It will build on existing cooperation between the two countries on energy efficiency.

Climate Variability

This project aims to develop statistical tools that can be used to provide a better scientific understanding of Australian/New Zealand climate variability and limits to predictability on both a global and regional scale.

A new methodology will be developed to study predictable patterns of both Australian and New Zealand surface air temperature and rainfall for seasonal forecasting. The methodology will also be used to study variability and predictability under different climate change scenarios.


Regional Paleoclimate Records

Analysis of ice core and sedimentary records has provided information on atmospheric and ocean temperatures, and sea-level changes, dating back many thousands of years. This information has added to our understanding of the global climate system, and the impact of human activity on climate. However few such paleoclimate records exist in our region, and regional climate trends can vary widely from the global average.

This project aims to help fill that information gap, with work being undertaken to analyse ice cores and marine sediments from New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica. This regional paleoclimate record can help reconstruct climatic behaviour during past times, and better constrain likely scenarios of future change within our region.

Synthetic Gas Project

Through this project Australia and New Zealand will work together to increase knowledge of the use and emissions profile of synthetic greenhouse gases, develop better practices for the management of synthetic greenhouses gas refrigerants through the supply chain, and enhance the capacity of tradespeople to manage synthetic greenhouse gas refrigerants.

ENDS

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