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NZ embarrasses at climate

10 minutes of nothing – NZ embarrasses at climate talks

Auckland 1 April 2009 - The New Zealand delegation at UN climate talks in Bonn is embarrassing the country by outing us as laggards, says Greenpeace.

“One official delegate I spoke to after New Zealand’s opening presentation to the 180 countries attending the negotiations said ‘well that was 10 minutes of nothing’, “said Greenpeace New Zealand’s Political Adviser in Bonn, Geoff Keey.

“I have serious concerns about New Zealand’s direction. We’re not climate change leaders. We’re not even fast followers. Over here in Bonn it’s painfully clear that we’re laggards.”

In its presentation, New Zealand’s ambassador spoke about the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that the world should try to live with in the long term (known as a stabilisation goal.)

“New Zealand’s proposed stabilisation goal was no more than 450ppm. A couple of years ago, that might have seemed reasonable, but the most recent science indicates that 450ppm is way too high, is likely to push the world above two degrees warming, and could trigger catastrophic climate change. Tellingly, New Zealand didn’t want to talk in terms of a temperature-based goal," said Keey.

In comparison, the Association of Small Island States, including New Zealand’s Pacific Island partners, is calling for a target of 350ppm and less than 1.5 degrees of warming. These countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change so are acutely aware of what the world needs to do.

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“To support a goal of 450 is essentially to support annihilation of our Pacific neighbours. If New Zealand wants to retain credibility in the Pacific, it needs to listen to them and reflect their concerns.”

Unlike all other countries at the talks, apart from Russia and the Ukraine, New Zealand is refusing to put forward a proposed national emission reduction target. “Our delegation is still holding out to see whether special pleading about “national circumstances” is successful before offering to commit to anything,” said Keey.

“Astonishingly, New Zealand’s Ambassador admitted that one of the reasons for this delay was the review of the emissions trading scheme.”

Keey called for the review to be reconsidered, in light of the fact it was holding up international negotiations. “The Parliamentary Review of climate change policy is already impacting on New Zealand’s ability to be a responsible international player.”

Greenpeace is calling on the New Zealand government to commit to a 40 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020.


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