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Al Gore visit timely - too bad Cullen will miss it

13 November 2006

Al Gore visit timely - too bad Cullen will miss it

The visit of former US Vice-President turned global warming campaigner Al Gore could not have come at a better time, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

Ms Fitzsimons and fellow Co-Leader Russel Norman will attend a lecture given by Mr Gore at Auckland University tomorrow on climate change, investment, and the message of his successful and influential documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth.

"Mr Gore's visit is timely. Climate change is at the forefront of peoples' minds at the moment, with a recent Research New Zealand poll showing that nearly 60 percent of New Zealanders are concerned or very concerned about its effects," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"There is growing public consensus that action is needed on this issue, and both the Labour Government and the National Party have recently claimed to be taking it seriously. Mr Gore's talk will hopefully challenge MPs who have been waxing lyrical about the issue of late to translate that talk into real, effective action.

"They could start by supporting the six-pack of bills on climate change recently launched by the Green Party to mark International Day of Action on Climate Change. These bills address fixed electricity charges, airline emissions, public transport funding, government procurement, rail electrification and superannuation fund investment.

"The last is particularly pertinent since Mr Gore is here at the invitation of the board of the New Zealand Super Fund, which has so far made some very climate-unfriendly investments," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"I am also disappointed to see that Finance Minister Michael Cullen has chosen not to attend Mr Gore's lecture. If the Government is serious about the Prime Minister's recently articulated vision of a truly sustainable, carbon-neutral New Zealand, it would be a good idea to send the most senior Minister in the country to an important address on climate change like this.

"As Finance Minister, Dr Cullen determines how our money gets spent - on more roads or on public transport, for example. It is impossible to divorce the reality of climate change from economic strategy, and there urgently needs to be a serious debate at the highest levels of government about whether pursuing rapid economic growth is compatible with a commitment to climate change. For this reason, Dr Cullen really should be attending this event," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ENDS

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