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NZ leads agreement to protect Antarctica

NZ leads agreement to protect Antarctica

New Zealand has played a key role in negotiating an international treaty protecting the Antarctic environment, Foreign Minister Phil Goff has announced.

“The treaty requires anyone who causes an environmental accident in Antarctica to take action to clean up the pollution and prevent further environmental damage. If a polluter does not take clean up action, then compensation can be claimed," Mr Goff said.

New Zealand chaired negotiations for the treaty, which sets out a regime for response action and compensation in the event of environmental accidents in Antarctica. It was adopted overnight at a conference in Stockholm.

“This agreement brings an end to 12 years of negotiation. It’s a vital step forward in protecting the pristine environment of the Antarctic.

“New Zealand’s role in chairing the negotiations reflects our special interest in Antarctica, and the importance we place on its environment.

“Prevention and clean-up measures are crucial in the event of an environmental accident. Imposing a legal obligation to pay compensation creates an incentive to make sure such measures are taken,” Mr Goff said.

The treaty was negotiated by the 45 member countries of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, made up by the majority of countries conducting Antarctic activities. Negotiations began in 1993, and have been chaired by New Zealand since 1999.

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