Auckland 1 December 2008
One year until Climate D Day - NZ on the outer
New Zealand is likely to find itself increasingly isolated at the UN climate talks starting today in Poznan, Poland, according to Greenpeace.
As well as the first day of the Poznan meeting, today also marks 365 days until world leaders meet for the most important climate meeting to date. It's at this meeting in Copenhagen, December 2009, that final UN negotiations will occur and a global agreement to save the climate must be reached.
"Thanks to National's dismantling of New Zealand climate policy, its plans to hold a select committee inquiry into the science of climate change, and our past behaviour at these talks (1), our reputation for Poznan is in tatters," said Greenpeace Senior Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer.
"Meanwhile our emissions are increasing at a rate almost double that of the US. All this sends a dangerous signal to the international community that New Zealand doesn't care about climate change.
"New Climate Negotiations Minister Tim Groser will have his work cut out to explain in Poznan why New Zealand is going backwards on climate change when the rest of the world is moving forward."
Boxer said the scientific imperative to act on climate change was growing by the day. "Temperature increases, global emissions and loss of ice at the Arctic and Antarctic have now overshot scientists' worst case scenarios. The Arctic icecap has entered what's been called a 'death spiral'. There is no time to waste."
"As US President-Elect Barack Obama has said, the work at Poznan is vital for the planet, and the stakes could not be higher.
"It's not too late for John Key to save New Zealand's credibility by getting serious about climate change. But at the moment we're at serious risk of becoming an international climate pariah, with potential impacts for exports from a global consumer backlash.
"A clear work plan needs to be borne out of Poznan if a deal is to be reached in Copenhagen. New Zealand must agree to adopt binding emission reduction targets at the Poznan meeting, he said (2).
For a full media briefing on Poznan, go to: www.greenpeace.org.nz/poznan
(1) Contrary to political rhetoric, New Zealand has never been a leader on climate change. Rather, we're well established as one of the climate bad guys on the international stage, and have always sided with what's known as an "umbrella group" of countries during climate negotiations. This group comprises the US, Canada, Russia, Australia and Japan (although the US' position is expected to change with the new administration).
This group consistently stalls and stymies any real progress. We saw some very poor behaviour from the New Zealand delegation at a meeting Vienna last year, where the delegation labeled proposed emission targets "too demanding" and fought to water down the agreement. Then in Bali, New Zealand dragged its heels and again refused to agree to the recommended target range.
(2) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has specified that developed countries like New Zealand need to be signing up to binding emissions reductions 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