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Speech: Key Addresses Copenhagen Conference

Hon John Key
Prime Minister

17 December 2009
Speech

New Zealand statement to the Joint High-level segment of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the Conference of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol

Madam President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

New Zealand came to Copenhagen with great hope of achieving a binding agreement that had developed and developing countries working together to respond to the challenges of climate change.

We thank the Danish Government for their generous hospitality and huge effort to help achieve this end.

It is sobering to have reached this point of the conference without having made progress on the major issues necessary for a comprehensive, effective, and legally binding global climate change agreement.

The global deal
Any new climate change deal must shift from a system of limited participation to comprehensive global coverage.

For this to be achieved, we need international commitments from all major emitters that accommodate diverse national approaches to mitigation and adaptation.

At this conference we need leadership from the major economies; they need to listen to the voices of vulnerable nations that are facing the harsh realties of climate change.

For New Zealand we are acutely aware of the challenge climate change poses for our pacific island neighbours.

A clear and firm signal must be sent to the world. We must change attitudes, drive low-carbon development, spur innovation and deployment of technologies, and influence priorities for finance and investment.

A new global deal must be durable – with in-built capacity to evolve over time – to keep up with scientific knowledge, technological breakthroughs, and economic and social development.

Undoubtedly, as this conference has demonstrated, the scope of the challenge is enormous.

New Zealand actions
New Zealand is committed to doing its fair share in the global effort, including taking responsibility for emissions reductions and contributing to international finance and technology support.

New Zealand’s emissions profile is heavily influenced by agriculture and forestry, and our efforts include a special focus on these sectors.

We are the only country in the world that has introduced an emissions trading scheme covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors of the economy, including agriculture and forestry.

At the international level, we are advocates of setting the right accounting rules for the agriculture and forestry sectors.

Rules are essential for ensuring environmental integrity and for giving countries the confidence to set ambitious targets.

The wrong rules could significantly undermine New Zealand’s future as a food producer to the world for no environmental gain.

We must also avoid inefficient rules that constrain the carbon market. An open, global carbon market is crucial for maximising global emissions reductions.

Agriculture and the Global Research Alliance
Globally, agricultural emissions equate to those from every car, truck, train, aeroplane and ship yet have received insufficient attention and very little research focus.

We have long been leaders in agricultural technology and efficiency. We are unique among developed countries as agricultural production is the backbone of our economy and accounts for half of our emissions.

Food security is a priority for all countries. The world population is projected to reach nine billion by 2050. To support this number of people, world food production needs to double.

That is why yesterday New Zealand launched with 20 partner countries, including the US and India, a new Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gasses.

The Alliance brings developed and developing countries together on the dual challenges of food security and climate change.

The Alliance will allow countries to better coordinate, collaborate on, and fund research into mitigation solutions for the agricultural sector.
New Zealand has been delighted with the support for the concept received so far, and looks forward to advancing the Alliance in partnership with other countries.

Mr President, after years of planning for this conference and now weeks of talking here in Copenhagen, the time has finally come for leaders to reach an agreement.

Now is the time for us to set aside our differences and to collectively map a pathway forward.

Now is the time for every country to give a little, so we as a world can gain a lot.

Progress will require commitment, compromise and cash.
But now is the time for us all to face the reality: that of all the options on the table at Copenhagen, failure is the one we can all least afford.
ENDS

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