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Climate Report Shows Kyoto Ratification 'A Must'

Climate Report Shows Kyoto Ratification 'A Must' - Greens

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the Government's recommitment today to ratifying the Kyoto protocol was timely given the release of a report predicting significant climate changes in New Zealand.

Ms Fitzsimons said she accepted Minister Pete Hodgson's assurance on Kim Hill (National radio) this morning, and in a subsequent press release, that the Government was still committed to ratification and had not changed its position.

Mr Hodgson gave his assurance the same day as the release of a report finding temperatures will rise by up to 3.8 degrees in the next century if nothing is done to reduce emissions, and by up to 2.6 degrees if constructive steps are taken.

"This report shows that even if emissions are reduced, our unsustainable energy use has had a permanent impact on the environment which will affect all future generations," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"We have to act now to minimise the upheaval over the next century. The report describes more dry periods, more floods and erosion, sea levels which will rise by up to 88cm, increased pressure on vulnerable native ecosystems, and increased pests and diseases which threaten agriculture and health.

"This report serves as a timely reminder today of just how serious global warming is, and how urgent it is for the world to act cohesively to find a more sustainable way to live," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said the New Zealand Government is closer to the Green coalition governments of Europe in its commitment to binding targets that have environmental integrity, than to Australia or the United States.

"New Zealand's negotiators should support the Europeans at Bonn to finalise the rules. New Zealand has to take a lead in ratifying the protocol and meeting Kyoto targets, not only to safe-guard our own future, but also on behalf of our low-lying Pacific Island neighbours. Ratification in 2002 is 'a must'," she said.

But Ms Fitzsimons said the Government should not wait for the rules to be finalised before taking action to reduce emissions.

"While we wait, we are losing opportunities to get on track to meet our Kyoto targets. Building a strong and well-utilised freight and passenger rail network, for example, is critical to reducing our future emissions. The Government needs to take some responsibility for backing the future of rail in this country in keeping with its climate change rhetoric."

Ends

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