In which Geoff nears the end of his tether...
The negotiations are winding down as countries prepare to deliver closing speeches and I feel the need to sound off about how New Zealand is performing.
New Zealand has a very talented delegation at the climate change negotiations. They are smart, thoughtful, engaging and professional and probably one of the most capable teams at Bonn. They could really make a big difference to these negotiations – they could help drive a bold climate change deal that is needed to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.
But at the moment this kind of ambitious leadership isn’t happening, and that makes me sad.
In Poznan last December, the New Zealand Government joined other developed countries in agreeing to present their targets for reducing emissions at this meeting in Bonn. They have reneged on this. Quite simply, our government made a promise to the rest of the world and then broke it.
What’s worse, it appears that New Zealand was amongst a group of countries that undermined our friends and partners in the Pacific who sought to emphasise the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to below 350ppm, the level needed to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.
So not only has New Zealand reneged on a promise, but it seems to have abandoned the friends who need it most. Is this the part New Zealand is to play when John Key says “we’re playing our part?” I sincerely hope not.
Combined with ditching domestic climate change programmes like public transport funding, a partial ban on fossil fuel generation and the phase out of energy inefficient lightbulbs, New Zealand’s performance on climate change is looking very bad.
A few weeks ago in a second hand bookshop I found a 1990 Government document canvassing ideas for tackling climate change. 18 years later none of the suggestions appear to have been implemented and Parliament is still debating the issues raised in the document.
It seems we have fallen a long way since our leadership on nuclear weapons and nuclear ships.
We all have a huge challenge to bring New Zealand up to speed in the climate change negotiations. If we want New Zealand to ‘play its part,’ then we will all have to show leadership, whether it’s ordinary New Zealanders writing to their local MP, the officials who have the privilege of drafting policies or the politicians and diplomats who have the responsibility of advocating on behalf of all of us.
Let’s rise to the challenge.