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Climate Defence Coalition Launched

Sunday 17 March 2002

Climate Defence Coalition Launched To Fight Polluters' Lobby

A coalition of medical, environment, resource management, recreational, engineering and transport groups has been launched today to fight polluting business interests campaigning against government action on climate change and ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

Members of the coalition, known as the Climate Defence Network, include: Med Eco, the association of medical professionals concerned about environment and health, ECO, itself comprising 70 organisations with a concern for the environment, the Environmental Defence Society, Forest and Bird, Federated Mountain Clubs, Greenpeace, Pacific Institute of Resource Management (PRIM), Sustainable Energy Forum, Engineers for Social Responsibility, Friends of the Earth and the Cycling Advocates Network.

Spokesperson Cath Wallace says the coalition members share a strong concern that pressure from polluting businesses opposed to ratification of the Kyoto Protocol could result in the government delaying action to reduce New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions.

"A vocal and well-funded business lobby is waging an aggressive campaign against ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The Climate Change Pan Industry Group has been actively lobbying cabinet ministers and other members of Parliament with the intent of pressuring the government to back down on previous commitments to reduce New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions," Wallace says. We support the government taking action that is effective and timely.

Business interests involved in the Climate Change Pan Industry Group include the Petroleum Industry Association, Business New Zealand, Todd Energy, Carter Holt Harvey, Shell, BP, Comalco and Fonterra.

Dr Simon Hales of MedEco, says "ordinary New Zealanders and those in the Pacific will be at greater risk from nasty vector-borne diseases if climate changes because of lack of effective policy action. Unless effective action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, new disease carrying mosquitoes will spread in New Zealand and make us sick from diseases such as dengue fever and Ross River virus. Some Pacific communities may have to be evacuated and accommodated by New Zealand and Australia as environmental refugees "

Environmental Defence Society spokesperson, Garry Law, says New Zealand industry is being grossly irresponsible on the world's biggest environmental issue. "The environmental and social costs of doing nothing both to ourselves and those less advantaged is why we have to act," Law says. "New Zealand has a responsibility to its Pacific neighbours - who are going to be among the hardest hit by a warming climate - to commit to global action to reduce greenhouse gases. Sitting on the sideline has no moral justification".

Kay Weir, PIRM, said "climate change is a matter of national, regional and global security. It

warrants establishing a state of international civil emergency to initiate effective measures to meet the threat. Kyoto is just a first step."

The Climate Defence Network is calling on the government to reaffirm its commitment to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and to introduce a strong package of measures to reduce New Zealand's growing greenhouse gas emissions.

Cabinet is expected to discuss the government's package of policy measures on climate change tomorrow, Monday, 18 March. The package is to be released for public submission in April.


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