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Nick Smith Tries to Redefine the Word “Fair”

Nick Smith Tries to Redefine the Word “Fair”

New Zealand still offering insulting amount of climate change financing

As Heads of State arrive in Copenhagen, the climate talks are in crisis – rather than having a few key issues to be resolved by Ministers, almost the whole agenda has been kicked up to the political level.

One of the absolutely crucial pieces of the deal is long-term funding to help poor and vulnerable countries protect themselves from climate change and make the transition to a low carbon development path – without the use of cheap and dirty fossil fuels that have underpinned the economies of the industrialised countries. Credible projections put that need for funding at US$100 billion for adaptation and US$100 billion for mitigation, a total of US$200 billion per year.

Yesterday, Climate Change Minister Nick Smith’s statement on climate change finance was: “We’ll put on the table our fair share relative to our GDP. The Prime Minister previously mentioned at CHOGM somewhere in the $10-50 million per year (range), but until the numbers firm up here in Copenhagen, it’s not possible to take it further than that."

The response from Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director, Barry Coates: “To the Minister I say, I’m sorry, but calling this ‘fair’ just won’t fly. The majority of the world’s population knows what fair looks like. While they’re drinking salty water from contaminated wells, they know it looks like a figure closer to NZ$700 million per year from New Zealand.

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“$10 million is an insult. $50 million is still an insult – that amount equates to what the Government will spend on about 2.5km of the new 25km Kapiti Coast Sandhills Expressway.

“We’re talking about the survival of millions of people. Repeating over and over that New Zealand is doing its fair share, while offering just crumbs, is doublespeak of the highest order. We understand that the Government wants the best deal for our country. But the best deal for New Zealand in the long term is one that is truly fair. where we act as a responsible global partner. Instead, our negotiators are fostering distrust," said Coates.

The spin from the rich nations is whirring – the recent statements by Ministers Smith and Groser have anticipated the failure of the negotiations while blaming developing countries. But they and other rich country governments are trying to re-negotiate the mandate for the past two years of negotiations at the last minute in a way that is deeply unfair.

Nick Smith complains that New Zealand is taking on emissions reductions and India isn’t, ignoring the fact that New Zealand’s per capita emissions are ten times that of India. There are 450 million people in India whose fuel sources are firewood and dung. India did not cause this problem; countries like New Zealand, with high per capita emissions, caused the problem. It is people living in poverty in India, Banglaῤesh, Africa and vulnerable countries `f the Pacific islands who are the ones on the frontlines of climate catastrophe.

Coates said, “It is both wrong and unfair to blame the victim for the crime.

“These talks will fail unless rich countries deliver the money they promised two years ago to help poor countries reduce their emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Poor countries are ready to deliver on their side of the bargain – rich countries must show they are willing to do the same.

“Who will come with the proposals that will break this deadlock? 130 world leaders are on their way. Are any of them prepared to be a leader? Is John Key coming to Copenhagen to be part of the problem or part of the solution?”

Editor’s Notes:

• The outcome of two years of negotiations under two parallel negotiating tracks was published Wednesday – key gaps include:

1. The scale of emissionsreductions for rich countries (Annex 1) is creeping up towards 25%, however the proposals are riddled with loopholes. A real reduction of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 is demanded by the science.

2. The offers of around US$10 billion per year in climate finance are a fraction of the most credible estimates of US$100 billion for adaptation and US$100 billion for mitigation by developing countries. A rapid scale up of funding to US$200 billion per year by 2020 is needed plus a guarantee that this money will be additional to existing aid commitments.

3. Weaker systems of review and verification have been proposed but they do not provide the assurances that are needed. A strong system of compliance within a legally binding treaty structure is the political decision that is needed.

• A summary of the political state of play is available on the Oxfam website:


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