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Sign On

Over 230,000 New Zealanders have Signed On to support a 40 per cent by 2020 emissions reduction target.

World leaders failed the world at the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009. They walked away from the global summit without a treaty to save the climate.

They still have a chance to get it right and we will not let them fail. The future of 6.5 billion people is at stake... You are one of them.

Climate change is not slowing or stopping. It is only going to get worse, and it's happening fast. The speed with which climate change is occurring continues to confound scientists, who admit that they cannot keep pace with climate impacts already being observed.

We're at a point no one thought would happen for many years. We have a very narrow window of opportunity to act before it's too late. The failure of Copenhagen lost us more time. The task of tackling this has never been so urgent.


Eminent climate scientists say global emissions must peak by 2015 and decrease rapidly from there. If this doesn’t happen, they predict the Earth's climate will reach a point of no return, and any action taken will be too late to avert runaway climate change.

We are on a path that scares me.

Professor Steven Chu, United States Energy Secretary.

Copenhagen failed. What happens now?

The UN climate summit at Copenhagen in December 2009 was tipped as one of the most important meetings of our time.

Tens of thousands of delegates, leaders, protestors, interest groups converged in Copenhagen - the vast majority convinced of the need for a binding global deal to reduce emissions. So how is it that the summit so miserably failed to produce one?

There was a lot of talking in Copenhagen, but very little listening. Many demands were made, but few concessions. Domestic priorities and personal political survival won out.

Reaching a meaningful global agreement in Copenhagen rested on two things.

  1. Developed countries signing up to strong emission reduction targets.
  2. Developing countries committing to contribute in some way to overall emission reductions.

The main problem was with the first point. Industrialised countries went to Copenhagen in the full knowledge that the pledges to cut emissions already on the table were hopelessly inadequate, but they still refused to increase their targets. This included New Zealand. The New Zealand Government’s attitude to climate change throughout 2009 without a doubt contributed to the weak outcome. We did not take a serious approach to climate change on the international stage. For Copenhagen to succeed, developed countries like New Zealand needed to adopt an emission reduction target of 40% by 2020 on 1990 levels.

Here’s the good news. Copenhagen happened. The fact that it took place at such a high political level, with 120 global leaders in attendance, is a good sign. Many of the presidents and prime ministers who travelled to Denmark told their people they were off to save the world. They may have failed this time, but there is no doubt they appreciate the magnitude of their task. and the risk they run in ignoring overwhelming public support for taking global climate action..

As well as preliminary meetings in the lead up, the next big scheduled meeting is in Mexico at the end of 2010. Leaders will get back together then and must finish what they failed to do in Copenhagen – agree to larger industrialised country emission reductions and adequate funding for developing country action and adaptation and make sure these measures are part of a legally binding treaty.


The Solution for the Climate

  1. Make sure global emissions peak in 2015 and decrease as rapidly as possible towards zero after that
  2. Developed countries must make cuts of 40 per cent on their 1990 emissions by 2020
  3. Developing countries must slow the growth of emissions by 15-30 per cent by 2020, with support from developed nations
  4. Protect tropical forests with a special funding mechanism - forests for climate
  5. Replace dirty fossil fuel energy with renewable energy and energy efficiency
  6. Reject false solutions like nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage

If we don't do something about it [climate change], and be seen to be doing something about it, you will ultimately suffer push back from your consumers that buy your product in the UK and in other countries. That is the advice we get from the British High Commission.

Prime Minister John Key speaking to farmers in July 2008

Why New Zealand must Sign On.

New Zealand's best selling point in key international markets is our clean green brand. The biggest risk to this is the perception internationally that we're not taking climate change seriously.

Unfortunately our clean green reputation is slipping. Our record on greenhouse emissions is shocking. We are among some of the worst emitters per person in the developed world, and our emissions are rising faster than those in the United States. 2009 was the year in which Kiwis, and the world, began to wake up to this. Major feature articles appeared in newspapers both in New Zealand and Europe, exploding the clean green “myth”.

It is important and beneficial for New Zealand to be seen as a responsible global citizen and do our bit for achieving the fair, ambitious and legally binding climate deal that the world needs.

40 per cent by 2020 - how?

New Zealand - 65% pure? It just doesn't have the same ring to it. We can be bolder than that. If not for pride alone, then for our bottom line. Demand created by the concerns of climate change will be the biggest social movement in the first part of this century...rather than debating the measures and the science and entertaining the naysayers, let's get on with it.

Geoff Ross, NZ businessman, founder of 42 Below Vodka

New Zealand has the ability and resources to become a 'low carbon' economy. All that's missing is political will. 40 per cent by 2020 is an ambitious target, but it is not a figure pulled out of a hat. The science dictates that this is what's required. Only a 40 per cent target for the developed world will stop us reaching the 'tipping point' of catastrophic climate change.

There are many ways of reaching the target:

  • 100 per cent renewable electricity supply is achievable by 2020.
  • Massive reductions in energy use through energy efficiency and building insulation can be achieved by 2020 - giving New Zealanders lower energy bills and warm, dry, healthy homes.
  • Integrated public transport solutions and road vehicle fuel efficiency can reduce transport emissions by 50 per cent by 2020 and make our towns and cities healthier and safer.
  • Low emissions 'smart farming' can reduce emissions and give us new profitable markets for climate conscious global consumers.

The latest updates


No Scandal behind these gates

Blog entry by Nick Young | February 8, 2010

Since December there has been a glut of stories challenging the science of climate change as represented by the IPCC. Should we be concerned? Only about climate change. Lately there’s been a rash of stories all ending with the word...

Target deadline COP-out

Blog entry by Kathy Cumming | February 2, 2010

As deadlines of global significance go, it was pretty…underwhelming. Sunday (January 31st) was the date by which countries were asked to declare whether they were putting their eggs in the Copenhagen Accord basket, and specify their...

My farewell blog

Blog entry by Gareth Hughes | January 29, 2010

This is my last day working at Greenpeace so I thought I’d write up a few thoughts on Sign On. Apologies in advance, this blog is really long, but hey this is a pretty BIG campaign. For those who don’t know me, I’ve been  the Sign On...


Blog entry by Nick Young | January 25, 2010

At the beginning of 2009, faced with a climate in crisis, a Government not taking it seriously and the huge opportunity that the Copenhagen summit presented, we decided it was time to get a lot of people to step up and say yes, we want...

A moving video from Copenhagen

Blog entry by Nick Young | January 22, 2010

As the dust settles after Copenhagen, despite the disappointment we all feel at such a wasted opportunity, there is much to give hope. In the video below Tom Smith, a twenty-year old member of the UKYCC delegation that went to the...

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