Greenpeace is calling on the new Government to stand alongside New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours during the COP23 climate change summit, which kicked off last night.

Dubbed the ‘Pacific COP’ because it is being presided over by Fiji, the summit will take place over the next two weeks in Bonn, Germany.

Greenpeace campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says it will be the first time the event will be hosted by a Pacific Island state.

“It’s hugely significant that Fiji will be at the helm of this year’s climate summit, because it offers a unique opportunity for Pacific voices to be heard,” she says.

“The world’s response to climate change is absolutely critical to the future of the Pacific, which is at the frontlines of sea level rise and extreme weather events.

“As a large Pacific Island country ourselves, we have a moral responsibility to stand alongside our neighbours and help amplify their voices. There’s never been a more urgent time for us to stand up, stand out, and be bold.”

A newly formed group from the Pacific, called Pacific Island Represent, crowdfunded almost $17,000 in just 24 hours to send two representatives to COP23. They are demanding that nations who have signed up to Paris meet their obligations as fast as possible.

Larsson says global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees for people of the Pacific to have the best chance at being able to continue living in their homes. The only way to ensure that is an end to any further oil, coal, and gas extraction.

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called climate change the ‘nuclear free moment’ of her generation. The Labour-led Government now has the opportunity to honour these strong words with strong action,” she says.

“The new Government’s target to bring climate emissions to zero by 2050 is bold, but it’s now up to the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, to implement a strong plan and good policies in the immediate term.

Larsson says this is vital given that the 2030 climate target set under the previous Government puts New Zealand on track to increase climate emissions in the near term.

“Holding onto a climate target that actually increases our emissions would be a serious betrayal of our Pacific neighbours,” she says.

“Ramping up ambition on climate change means putting an end to all new fossil fuel extraction in New Zealand. It means saying no to seismic blasting for oil and gas off our coasts. And it means hastening the transition to 100% renewable energy and clean transport.”

Greenpeace New Zealand is calling on the Government to put a moratorium on new oil and gas exploration by halting the upcoming Block Offer process, which opens up hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of New Zealand’s land and sea to companies in search of fossil fuels.