Friday 6 October 2006
The New Zealand public should be alarmed at the Government's lack of urgency on climate change, Greenpeace said today in response to climate change Minister David Parker's announcement on the issue.
"Everyone's talking about the need to make major reductions of greenhouse gases. The acid test is whether the policies deliver the cuts in emissions needed to avoid dangerous levels on climate change. But the Government isn't talking targets at all," said Cindy Baxter, Greenpeace campaign manager.
Greenpeace is extremely worried at Mr Parker's caution that the pace and extent of New Zealand's response 'should be in step with what major emitters are doing, including major trading partners.'
"Mr Parker needs to state which major trading partners he wants to be in step with: George Bush's America or the European Union and Japan," said Baxter.
"New Zealanders are heavy greenhouse polluters. We are also relatively wealthy. If New Zealand refuses to lead, we can hardly expect emerging economies (including China and India) to take action – particularly when on a per capita basis they are poorer and less polluting than New Zealand."
Mr Parker also signalled that price-based measures across the New Zealand economy may not be in place until as far away as 2012, again, a weakening of the Government's previous stance.
The UK Government is about to publish a study by former World Bank economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, which will warn that the world may have to pay multi-trillion dollar economic costs if it does not move urgently to act on climate change and that developed economies will face far higher costs if they do not act.
"The economic costs of inaction on climate change are never factored into Government accounting, and it's time they were," said Baxter.
Also of concern was Mr Parker's signal that New Zealand was interested in the "Asia-Pacific Pact" (AP6), which Greenpeace has re-named the "Coal Pact" on account of the idea coming from the coal industry.
"The Coal Pact is a voluntary, underfunded talkfest which is a US and Australian-led effort to delay real action. Under this pact, the member countries will increase their emission by 100% by 2050," said Baxter.