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A first step towards avoiding climate catastrophe

1 October, 2004

A first step towards avoiding climate catastrophe

The Green Party has congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, but warned that rising energy use could threaten any carbon-credit benefits to New Zealand.

"Russia's approval means the world will have taken the first step towards taking responsibility for its climate-changing activities," said Green Environment spokesperson, Jeanette Fitzsimons. "It is too late to stop some degree of climate change but there is still a chance to avoid climate catastrophe.

"Of the developed countries, only the US and Australia now stand outside the tent and it is very likely that international pressure will bring them in before the Treaty takes full effect in 2008.

"The Green Party is proud that New Zealand has played an active and responsible role in the process and did not wait till last of all to ratify, as the climate-change deniers of National and Act wished.

"Russia's ratification means that we can now work towards negotiating the second-phase commitments and bringing developing countries into the agreement," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Although the reductions negotiated are small and will not in themselves stop climate change, the benefit of the treaty is that for the first time every nation has a financial incentive to cut emissions. That will lead to projects that would not otherwise have occurred."

Ms Fitzsimons said that one significant benefit for New Zealand is that our carbon credits will be much more readily tradeable on a world market. However, she sounded a note of warning.

"With the way our energy consumption is rising and the number of proposals to use more coal, we may not end up with many credits after all. It is essential that our energy planning promote energy efficiency and renewable fuels so that our valuable credits are not wasted compensating for unnecessary emissions."

ENDS

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