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Schoolchildren cast their vote on climate change

01 December 2009 for immediate release

NZ schoolchildren cast their vote on climate change at Te Papa

Local Wellington school children, representing young people from across the country, have today (Tues) cast their vote for the future of the planet in a giant Earth-shaped ballot box in the capital - ahead of next week's crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

The eye-catching globe, filled with decorated paper lanterns made by school children from across New Zealand, is on display at Te Papa to send a strong message to politicians and the public from thousands of children nationwide. The lanterns were decorated with pictures and words expressing each child's personal reason for voting for Earth, and against global warming.

"I vote Earth because without the earth we wouldn't exist", said Nicola Vincent, 10, Nelson. Other reasons children gave for voting Earth included: "There is just one earth so we have to look after it" and "Earth is our only option, make the right choice".

Peter Hardstaff, Climate Change Programme Manager for WWF-New Zealand, says: "It's so important kids have a voice because they are the ones with the most at stake. Preventing runaway climate change requires leaders to act in the interests of future generations, not just the voters of today. John Key and his government have an historic opportunity to contribute to a fair, binding and ambitious deal and they need to step up to the mark."

Prime Minister John Key is being urged by WWF-New Zealand to do more at Copenhagen to secure an ambitious, fair and binding climate deal that will keep global warming below the danger threshold of 2 degrees Celsius. The government has proposed a conditional 10-20% reduction of emissions below 1990 levels, which falls well short of the 40% emissions reduction by 2020 for which New Zealand, as an industrialised nation, needs to take responsibility.

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Lanterns traditionally symbolise good luck and long life for many cultures around the world. The children's paper lanterns will act as a visual reminder of the good luck the leaders have with this opportunity for a global climate deal.

The lantern-filled globe will be on public display at Te Papa's Wellington foyer from 1-5 December. WWF will send the lanterns from New Zealand and countries around the world including South Africa and China to Copenhagen, where they will be paraded through the centre of the city to remind leaders of their responsibility to future generations.

Key Ministers and opposition party spokespeople have been invited to view the lanterns firsthand and will be sent a photograph of the display to remind them of the children's wishes.


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