New Zealand Sets Feeble Climate Change Target

The New Zealand Government’s announcement today that it will only tackle climate change if a shopping list of conditions are met is a clear example of the developed world’s lack of leadership on climate, Greenpeace warned today.

New Zealand said it will cut emissions by 10-20% by 2020, however this is entirely dependent on whether other countries take action and on how many loopholes New Zealand can negotiate for itself at the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit.

This makes New Zealand one of the few developed countries in the world to refuse to take unilateral action. Even its tiny Pacific Island neighbour, Tuvalu, on the climate front line, is taking unilateral action.

“17 years after signing the climate convention in Rio, New Zealand still has no effective climate policy in place – it’s shocking to see that it isn’t willing to do a thing without other countries. Science tells us we need strong mid-term targets to stop dangerous climate change. With this low level of ambition, New Zealand is joining the race to the bottom at the Copenhagen Climate Summit,” said Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner Geoff Keey from Bonn, where a week of climate talks begin today.

More than 90,000 New Zealanders, including Whale Rider star, Oscar nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes, have signed a petition calling for the government to step up to an international leadership role by adopting a 40% by 2020 target.

“New Zealand prides itself on its clean and green reputation and this poor showing in the global negotiations is putting this at risk and undermining the chances of a climate saving deal in Copenhagen this December,” said Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace International political climate advisor.

Greenpeace warned that the New Zealand target was a result of the G8 leaders’ failure last month to agree any mid term targets or a date for a global peak in emissions.

While the G8 agreed to keep global temperature rise to two degrees, and long term targets for 2050 of 80% greenhouse gas emissions cuts for the developed world, it provided no leadership on how to get there. (New Zealand has only gone for 50% by 2050, well behind this).

Another round of talks begin in Bonn today with negotiators contemplating a more than 200 page document that is more like a “wish list” than any real negotiation text. Countries are still adding their pet projects to the list. Governments must demand that the UNFCCC come up with a consolidated text to allow real negotiations to start at the next session in Bangkok in late September.

“Time is running out. To get a good deal at the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit, governments must put their own shallow self-interest aside, act for the climate and get down to some real work,” said Kaiser.

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