John Key chastised for “hypocritical” speech at launch of Paris climate conference

Press release - December 1, 2015
Climate groups around the world are outraged at a speech delivered by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key this morning at the Paris climate change conference, where he called for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies despite doing the exact opposite at home.

Key’s musings went down so badly that New Zealand was given the ‘Fossil of the Day Award’ by global group of NGOs, Climate Action Network (CAN).

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister had presented a communique by ‘Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform’, of which the New Zealand Government is a founding member, requesting that governments adhere to a set of overriding principles in order to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

Greenpeace New Zealand Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, says Key’s contribution at the first day of the climate conference was “nothing but empty words”.

“It’s fundamentally hypocritical to call on others to remove fossil fuel subsidies, while increasing them at home. It’s no wonder New Zealand received the very first Fossil of the Day to be awarded at the conference.” he says.

“Although our Government may claim otherwise, on our home turf we have been subsidising the oil industry to the tune of $46 million a year. Even worse, National is now refusing to reveal just how big these tax breaks and subsidies currently are.”  

Just last week, five Greenpeace activists occupied the government-owned and taxpayer-funded climate and ocean research boat, Tangaroa, for 10 hours, which was about to head out to sea to carry out oil surveying on behalf of petroleum giant Chevron.

The science ship, which Norman says should be doing vital environmental work, has been refitted at a cost of $24 million so it can also do oil and gas exploration.

“There’s something really wrong with this picture, and now these contradictions between what our Government says and does are being highlighted on the world stage,” he says.  

French President François Hollande set the tone of the UN conference with an opening speech that included recognition of the fact that climate action is a matter of survival for some countries attending the conference.

He said that for nations like low-lying Pacific Islands, a goal to making the world powered entirely by renewable energy by the middle of this century is vital. He also said that any agreement reached must be binding.

New Zealand is proposing that targets agreed on should not be legally binding.

“We have one of the weakest climate action plans and poorest pollution reduction records of all the developed nations attending the talks in Paris,” says Greenpeace’s Norman. “Our Government is such a negative force at these talks that it would be better if it wasn’t there.”