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Key finally sees sense and goes to Copenhagen

3 December 2009
Media Statement

Key finally sees sense and goes to Copenhagen

Labour today welcomed Prime Minister John Key’s belated decision to show the world that New Zealand cares about climate change by joining global leaders in Copenhagen.

“It’s a pity took it took the presence of 100 other leaders to convince our Prime Minister that he needed to be in Copenhagen, but it's good that he's finally realised he should be there,” Labour’s climate change spokesperson Charles Chauvel said.

“New Zealand needs to be at the top table to show we are serious about climate change to protect our brand which is essential for our exporters and tourism industry.

“As a late convert to the threats of climate change, Mr Key should start to seriously question the advice he gets from his climate change ministers Nick Smith and Tim Groser.

"UK PM Gordon Brown and Australian PM Kevin Rudd told John Key that he was getting bad advice, and he changed his mind about attending Copenhagen. It’s not the first time – he’s getting a bum steer in all key areas of climate change policy – including the shape of our ETS, and the conduct of International Climate Change Negotiations.

"In Parliament last week, Nick Smith insisted that Australia would have an Emissions Trading Scheme in place by now, and that New Zealand had to have a scheme that 'aligned' with Australia's. John Key accepted this advice. So Parliament passed a law, under urgency, to do this. We now phase out assistance to polluters at the same rate as the Australian proposal. We now measure the intensity of emissions at the same rate as the Australian proposal. The law is now filled with references to the Australian ETS.

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"But yesterday, the Australian Parliament voted their ETS down. Australia may eventually get an ETS, but if it does, it will be a different scheme to the one we have aligned with, and we won't know its details for many months to come. We'll almost certainly have to change our law again when we know that detail. Nick Smith gave John Key bad advice on another key aspect of climate change policy, and John Key took it. He should reconsider.

"Over the past year, Tim Groser has been trying to negotiate international rule changes in key areas of climate change policy. He wants new rules on land use change and the measurement of greenhouse gases from agriculture. To get these rule changes, he should have been working with the countries that are our natural allies on these issues, and lobbying his ministerial colleagues to do the right thing at home on climate change policy.

"Instead, Tim Groser has aligned New Zealand with the big, developed world polluters who don't regard these issues as priorities.

Meanwhile, at home his colleagues have been dismantling environmental protections and weakening New Zealand's commitments to act on climate change. Tim Groser has made it less, not more, likely that New Zealand will get the international rule changes it wants. John Key should take a long, hard look at his performance".

"John Key's itinerary indicates that he intends to treat Copenhagen as a one day photo-op. Instead, he should take the time to listen to heads of government at Copenhagen, as he seems to have been forced to listen in Trinidad.

"If he does, he will learn that New Zealand is increasingly seen as off-track on climate change policy. He needs to show leadership in fixing the problem.”

ENDS

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