The writing is on the blackboard
At his inaugural post-Cabinet press conference
, Prime Minister John Key confirmed the worst; that New Zealand will plead special treatment at this week's UN climate talks in Poznan, Poland, and try to weasel out of emission reduction commitments. In other words, New Zealand is happy to scuttle the talks that might just save the world.
It's on account of our cows, you see. Agriculture makes up half all New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions, but Key has prioritised the sector's ability to make money over a rotting planet.
"You can expect us to negotiate aggressively in our corner, and I think that's the right thing to do,"
Imagine if every one of the 190 nations involved in the UN negotiations pleaded special treatment - the circles talked in would be vertigo-inducing and in the meantime, climate change would run away on us. For New Zealand to be so bullish (excuse the pun) seriously undermines the entire premise of the talks - that something must be done about global emissions and quickly.
New Zealand should not underestimate the international ramifications of slipping backwards on climate change. Trade, our credibility at UN talks, and our general standing in the international community would all be dealt a blow. New Zealand's stance on agricultural emissions is understood to be of particular concern to the UK government, with Fonterra and its activities a particularly sensitive issue, as No 10 seeks to get other developed countries in line with its more progressive position on climate change (it has just become first country to legislate for deep emission cuts).
But more importantly, New Zealand's poor position in Poznan sends completely the wrong signal to developing countries like China and India, whose involvement in any post 2012 pact will be crucial. It says "we're not budging, so you shouldn't either."
Stalemate in today's climate is not a pretty option.