By now New Zealand should be caving in under the weight of an unenviable crown.

We have again been awarded Fossil of the Day award at the UN climate negotiations at Bonn. We've even crept up the charts, gaining second equal with Japan.

Japan also scored a separate special Fossil of the Day for proposing a criminally weak emissions reduction target of 8% emission reductions below 1990 levels by 2020.  This should be seen as a sign of what's in store for New Zealand if the Government doesn't have a strong target to announce in August.

Before I explain the fossil, I need to offer a quick word of explanation about "closed informal" meetings.  These are actually relatively formal meetings, but they're closed to journalists and observers (of which I'm one).  They're often the forums for negotiators to raise ideas or issues that may be publicly unpopular.  We're not supposed to know what happens at these meetings but one way or another, word usually gets out.

Today's New Zealand fossil was awarded because last night at a "closed informal" meeting of Kyoto Protocol negotiators, New Zealand proposed to remove all reference to numbers for the aggregate emissions reduction target for "Annex 1" countries, (the countries, including New Zealand, that have taken on binding commitments to reduce their greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol).  One of the main objectives of these negotiations is to come up with a number for the amount of effort Annex 1 countries are expected to do in the next commitment period. New Zealand and Japan's interventions undermine the very purpose of these negotiations.

The citation is:

Second Place: New Zealand and Japan, For seeking to remove numbers for aggregate Annex 1 targets at an informal meeting of the AWG-KP. Not only has Japan offered a weak national target and New Zealand not offered a target at all, they have both tried to remove any reference to aggregate target numbers from the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. They need to stop trying to get off the hook and agree to strong action to tackle climate change. No numbers is an unacceptable outcome.

More NZ worries

I've also been hearing worrying gossip about New Zealand's approach to indigenous peoples' rights and biodiversity (the latter being a technical word for native birds and animals etc). 

Anonymous sources tell us that in closed meetings between the 4-9th June, New Zealand tried to weaken language proposed by other countries on indigenous peoples' participation in forest protection.  This is consistent with attempts by New Zealand to weaken indigenous peoples' rights language in Poznan of December last year.

Not only did New Zealand refuse to back a call to protect biodiversity and to add a reference to the Convention on Biological Diversity, it went so far as to oppose a general reference for the climate convention to be in line with other international treaties that protect human rights and the environment..  Countries and NGOs following this strand of the negotiations are very cross about these actions.

Japan's target

The big event of the day, apart from the various fossils, was Japan's announcement of a weak target of 8% below 1990 levels by 2020, which resulted in a special Fossil of the Day award.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted as saying that this target is likely not enough. The German Environment Ministry said the target was far behind Japan´s possibilities and responsibilities.

In response to a question about Japan's target, the head of the UN's climate change secretariat Yvo de Boer said at his press conference: "for the first time in two and a half years in this job I just don't know what to say," and called for developed countries to adopt stronger targets.  Not that New Zealand has one at all of course.