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New Zealand missing the mark on pollution targets

New Zealand missing the mark on pollution targets

Oxfam New Zealand welcomes the confirmation that the government will honour its Kyoto Protocol commitments to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels in the current commitment period through 2012. However, the current government has succumbed to delaying tactics and has not retained the previous government's target for greenhouse gas reductions beyond 2012.

Oxfam's Executive Director Barry Coates, speaking from the UN climate talks in Poznan, Poland said, "Where climate negotiations are concerned, no target is a bad target. It is time that New Zealand fronted up to recognise that our emissions are 26% above the level of our Kyoto commitment. We need to get serious about fulfilling our responsibilities to those who are suffering the impacts of climate change. It's time to stop harming and start helping.

"We are disappointed that New Zealand has chosen to step back from a commitment to emissions reductions of 25-40% by 2020," said Coates. "By backing off from this range, and initiating a review of the Emissions Trading Scheme, New Zealand is sending the international community a message that we are not serious about joining the global effort to tackle the climate crisis," he added.

Coates commented, "The National government has retained many of the foreign policy aims of the previous government, arguing that they are beyond party politics. New Zealand's climate change policy deserves the same treatment. The basis should be informed scientific analysis, not ideology."

At the UN climate change talks in Poznan, taking place December 1-12, Oxfam is calling for equity in emissions reductions and urgent action to support the people who are already struggling to cope with climate change. The negotiations are now entering the second week. The New Zealand Minister of Climate Change Negotiations, Tim Groser, arrives on December 10. Ministers are due to join the High Level segment on December 11-12.

The talks have been moving slowly and there is a huge task facing climate change negotiators over the next week. They must meet the schedule for concluding a strong agreement in time for the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009. If there is no plan in place by then for what happens after 2012, businesses and governments face uncertainty in their long term plans for investment.

"New Zealand should be listening to the vast weight of scientific evidence, to responsible business and to the pleas from developing countries suffering climate change impacts," said Coates. "We should not be condemning our Pacific neighbours to lose their land, their homes and, in some cases, their whole nations. What does a commitment to good relations with the Pacific actually mean if the New Zealand government does not support their right to exist?

Editors Notes:

• The Labour government had agreed a target for greenhouse gas reductions of 25-40% for New Zealand and other developed nations (from 1990 levels). This policy position was based on the range recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as likely to maintain global warming at below 2°C. Temperature rise above this level is predicted to result in sharply increasing impacts, causing irreversible damage to ecosystems and widespread suffering and loss of life.

• The latest scientific information is indicating that deeper emissions cuts will be needed than the 25-40% range to avoid exceeding global temperature rise of 2°C and the serious consequences. Oxfam is calling for the New Zealand government to set a target of reducing emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.


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