21 Dec 2009

Copenhagen was a success for New Zealand - PM

8:14 pm on 21 December 2009

Prime Minister John Key says that while the outcome of the Copenhagen climate talks may not please everyone, the conference was a success for New Zealand.

The talks ended with delegates from 193 countries failing to reach agreement on an accord negotiated between the United States and major developing countries.

Mr Key says that, from an overall perspective, the talks fell well short of the hopes and aspirations that people went there with - but New Zealand's negotiators were seeking changes to forestry rules, and good progress was made in that regard.

"We want to have the rules altered that would allow us to harvest forests that are pre-1990 and replant them in other parts of the country," Mr Key says. "We'd also want to have the position where we can lock up emissions where wood is harvested but used for the production of furniture and the like.

"In the course of negotiations over the past week significant progress has been made."

Mr Key also points to the launching of the Global Alliance, through which New Zealand and other countries will seek scientific solutions to the problem of agricultural emissions.

Groser accentuates positives

Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues, Tim Groser, admits the Copenhagen summit failed to achieve what it needed to, but says he's determined to look at the positives.

Mr Groser says while globally the event was a disappointment, New Zealand made substantial progress on rules surrounding forestry and agriculture.

He says there was also the beginnings of commitments from larger developing countries to reduce their carbon emissions.

World leaders failed us - Fitzsimons

Green MP Jeanette Fitzsimons says, however, that world leaders failed the planet and the future by failing to reach a binding agreement at the summit.

In the end, Ms Fitzsimons says, little was achieved other than some fine words on a piece of paper. But she thinks that there will be a strong reaction from civil society saying "We sent you there to do a deal and you haven't done it".

Ms Fitzsimons says the world must now work to secure a binding agreement at a climate-change convention in Mexico next November.

New Zealand's chief climate change negotiator, Adrian Macey, says that although he is frustrated by the process of negotiations, he is moderately pleased with the outcome of the summit.

He says Copenhagen is a stepping stone towards achieving a good comprehensive, legally binding result, but no one believed that would happen at Copenhagen, and it hasn't.

Too little, too late - energy expert

A New Zealand energy expert has given this country only a fair report card for its commitments at Copenhagen, reckoning it could do a lot better.

Professor Ralph Sims, from Massey University's School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, is also a leader with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

He told Radio New Zealand's Rural News that the global research alliance to reduce agricultural emissions that New Zealand initiated is one of the few positive outcomes from the summit.

But he thinks New Zealand's efforts to reduce its emissions are still too little, too late. The IPCC outlined the challenges regarding agricultural emissions almost 10 years ago, Professor Sims says, and pointed to proven technologies that were already available for improving energy use and cutting all types of emissions.