NZ - friend or foe of the US?
Auckland 19 November 2008 - New Zealanders should be seriously alarmed at the prospect of the National-led government damaging the country's relationship with the United States over its stance on climate change.
In a surprise speech to a Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles (1), US President-Elect Barack Obama has thrown down the gauntlet to global leaders over climate change. He says all nations willing to fight climate change have an ally in the US.
Greenpeace Senior Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer said it followed that if countries failed to accept the realities of climate change and failed put in place strong measures to address it, then they were foes of the new administration.
"New Zealand is at serious risk of becoming an international pariah over climate, and jeopodising its international standing and trade relations. The last thing we want is to become the equivalent of the French Government during nuclear testing in the Pacific."
In his address, Obama says: "Now's the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high." He says the US cannot meet the challenge alone and needs all nations onboard.
"I just hope he hasn't gotten wind of the new government of New Zealand," said Boxer, "which is not even sure it believes in manmade climate change, and in its first two weeks in power has pledged to dismantle every single piece of New Zealand climate policy."
Obama issued a special directive to international delegates meeting in Poznan, Poland next month, for the next round of UN climate talks.
"Your work is vital to the planet," he said. "While I won't be president at the time of your meetingâ€¦ once I take office, you can be sure that the US will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change."
Mr Boxer urged the New Zealand delegation heading to Poznan to accept its international responsibility and commit to binding emission reduction targets. (2) Greenpeace is also calling on the Government to set a domestic emission reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020.
(2)binding emissions reductions for developed (Annex 1) countries of between 25-40% by 2020 (on 1990 levels) and an overall emissions reduction target for developed (Annex 1) countries for the period 2013 - 2017 that is consistent with achieving the above reductions by 2020