New Zealand has once more been awarded Fossil of the Day at the UN climate talks in Bangkok (honestly, blogging on this would be getting boring if it wasn’t so depressing).  Third place this time.  The reason why New Zealand got a fossil?  Well, it’s a bit like last time, only the statement by a New Zealand negotiator was more extreme than last time.

I wasn’t at the particular meeting where this happened – I was busy elsewhere – but I soon heard about as the texts and emails came in from observers in the room.  I’ll give you some background first so it all makes sense.

The New Zealand negotiator became concerned at proposals to limit the extent to which developed countries like New Zealand could meet their targets by purchasing carbon credits from offshore.  The reason some developing countries are proposing this is because they’re concerned that some developed countries are aiming to buy their way out of making real changes at home.  And they’re right.  Analyse the New Zealand Government’s actions on climate change and you soon realise that all that will happen with New Zealand’s emissions is that they’ll keep going up.

So limits on offsetting (buying your way out) pose a real problem for the Government, because limits would mean they’d have to actually put in place policies to reduce emissions here in New Zealand.  This is something they seem curiously reluctant to do.

So faced with this dilemma – developing countries saying New Zealand should reduce emissions at home and a Government that refuses to do this – the New Zealand negotiator explained to delegates that without unlimited offsetting, New Zealand’s target would approach zero.  In other words, if we aren’t allowed to buy our way out of reducing emissions, we won’t reduce any.

For that, New Zealand got a fossil. Before you get grumpy with the negotiator, remember it’s not her fault.  You and I and everyone else in New Zealand needs to persuade the Government to give New Zealand’s negotiating team better instructions.  And with very little time before Copenhagen, we’d better do it fast.

Meanwhile, check out the climate march that took place here a couple of days ago. Hundreds of locals out on the streets calling for climate action and justice. Excellent.