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Video: Key Feels the Heat in climate change action

John Key Feels the Heat in climate change action

Ice carver Victor Cagayat creates life-size ice sculpture of John Key for World Environment Day. In honour of World Environment Day, John Key is making a special appearance in downtown Auckland today in the form of a life-size ice sculpture, holding the world in his hand. While volunteers in orange and red jumpsuits congratulate people for taking ferries, trains and buses, the sculpture of the Prime Minister is slowly melting until his arm falls off and he drops the world on the ground.

“It’s time for John Key and the New Zealand government to take urgent, fair and strong action on climate change,” said Oxfam New Zealand spokesperson Jason Garman. “We expect he will hold out for quite a while today, but ultimately I’d say he will feel the heat of public opinion.”

Morning commuters are being stopped to sign Oxfam’s Feel the Heat climate change petition and watch world-renowned ice carver Victor Cagayat at work. At lunchtime, members of the cast of Shortland Street will work the crowd, urging them to make their voices heard and tell Government to take a stronger stance in the international climate change negotiations culminating in Copenhagen in December.

“Negotiators are meeting right now in Bonn, Germany to hammer out details of a new global climate change deal. New Zealand could be showing leadership, but instead we just received the ‘Fossil of the Day’ award,” said Garman. “To the rest of the world, our clean green image is looking distinctly brown,” he added.

The reason for New Zealand's dubious distinction in Bonn is that the government has yet to announce a mid-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. Oxfam is calling on New Zealand together with other developed countries to reduce emissions to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The world’s poorest people are being hit first and worst by climate change, yet they have done the least to cause the problem. According to a report released last week by the Global Humanitarian Forum, climate change already kills about 315,000 people a year through hunger, sickness and weather disasters.

“While there has been a steady increase in climate-related events, it is poverty and political indifference that make a storm a disaster,” said Garman. “If you look at the deaths from these emergencies, about 95 per cent of them are in poor countries and oftentimes they happen from disease after the initial crisis is over.

“There are many things being done already that need to be massively up-scaled: installing clean water systems, building cyclone-proof shelters, teaching new farming techniques, providing rescue boats, basic sanitation training…even simple radios can save lives.”

Oxfam projects that in six years time the number of people affected by climatic crises will rise by 54 per cent to 375 million people a year. The world needs to re-engineer the way it responds to, prepares for and prevents disasters.

“Helping poor people adapt to the climatic changes rich countries have caused is not about charity, but responsibility,” said Garman. “Solutions are available now. If we decided it was a priority, money would be available now. It’s time for the world’s leaders to listen to the will of the people and act now. We simply cannot afford to wait.”

The Feel the Heat climate change petition is available at www.oxfam.org.nz/feeltheheat


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