I'm back in Bonn for the next round of UN climate talks. These were always going to be key talks for New Zealand because it's here we've dropped the bombshell of our target range. I have to say that when New Zealand's Climate Change Ambassador announced the highly conditional and decidedly unimpressive 10-20% range, he looked uncharacteristicly uneasy. No-one applauded, that's for sure.
There weren't meant to be any Fossils of the Day awarded at Bonn; NGOs aren’t allowed to organise events at this session of the negotiations. But there’s always an exception and in this case, New Zealand's target announcement is it.
So yet again, New Zealand gets awarded a fossil. The Climate Action Network unanimously awarded New Zealand the fossil for:
Adopting a completely inadequate mid term target and demanding that the accounting rules get changed in its favour. This follows comments in the New Zealand Parliament where the Government criticised small Pacific Island States for advocating for the targets needed to ensure their survival.
UK climate campaigner Sara Shaw from development agency Tearfund co-chairs the group of NGO observers keeping an eye on developed countries like New Zealand. She spoke on behalf of the Climate Action Network saying:
"These kinds of low Annex 1 targets won't achieve the emission reductions needed to avoid dangerous levels of climate change or even the 2 degree stabilisation goal that New Zealand has made a condition of its target. Poor people, already being hit hard by climate change, have once again been disappointed by another developed country taking a weak and self-interested approach.”
She asked a question that I’d dearly love to get answer to: “Will New Zealand name the countries it expects to do its share of the effort in its place?"
And she expressed concern that New Zealand was trying to threaten the negotiations:
"New Zealand has no unconditional target which seems like a threat that New Zealand will walk away from efforts to tackle climate change if it doesn't get what it wants."
That said, the 20% target is a victory for the 90,000 New Zealanders who are supporting Sign On. Without the support, the Government wouldn’t have been anywhere near this kind of target. But what Fossil of the Day shows is that it’s not enough, especially with all the conditions attached.
We can, and must, do better. I'll keep you posted.