1 Dec 2012

Small Island States disheartened by NZ over climate change

8:19 am on 1 December 2012

The Alliance of Small Island States has voiced disappointment that the New Zealand government has ruled out committing to a legally-binding agreement on the Kyoto Protocol.

At the UN climate change negotiations in Doha, AOSIS is pushing for a second commitment period of targets for greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Johnny Blades has this report.

The AOSIS chair, Nauru's Marlene Moses, says urgent action is needed on reductions because short-term mitigation ambition was central to the agreement that was reached at the last climate summit.

She says leadership on the issue hasn't been forthcoming from regional players such as New Zealand.

"They're our friends, they're our neighbours, they're in our neighbourhood and it is very disheartening, it is very disappointing, the position that New Zealand has taken on the Kyoto Protocol. It's also mystifying for me personally because they're a neighbour and they see the challenges that are being faced by their closest neighbours and by the small island nations."

New Zealand's Trade Minister Tim Groser was asked in parliament to respond to Ms Moses' disappointment.

Mr Speaker, I think we'll be able to clarify the situation when we have an opportunity to speak directly to the Nauru delegation.

Grilled by the Green Party on New Zealand's commitments to emissions reductions, Tim Groser defended the the government's priorities.

I'm confident that the one commitment that we have taken which is to reduce our emissions according to our original Kyoto Protocol commitment will be fully met. The whole purpose of this conference is to try and ensure that the future agreement encompasses 85 percent of countries outside the Kyoto Protocol so that we have a serious opportunity for the first time of getting on top of the problem. And I think that's an entirely reasonable position for any government to take.

The New Zealand government has also been criticised over delays around promised funding to help developing countries combat the effects of climate change and sea level rise.

Barry Coates of the NGO Oxfam New Zealand says under the Fast Start Finance scheme 30 billion dollars was to be made available over a 3 year period.

But he says only a fraction has been given, sometimes as loans or as aid taken from other commitments.

Less than a quarter of the government money was actually additional to existing aid promises. So what happens, in countries like New Zealand, they have just re-badged their aid money, taken it out of one pocket and put it in another and called it climate finance, but explicitly in Copenhagen it was said that this funding had to be new and additional funding.

Oxfam says governments need to rise above their narrowly-defined self interest and make real progress towards a fair, ambitious and binding global deal at the Doha climate change talks.