15 Nov 2022

COP27: New Zealand blasted for 'obstructing' fund for climate damage

8:17 pm on 15 November 2022
Climate activists from the Asian People's Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) protest at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, during the COP27 climate conference today.

Climate activists from the Asian People's Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) protest at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, during the COP27 climate conference today. Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINE

New Zealand has risen a couple places in international rankings on climate action, but it has also been handed a 'fossil of the day' award at COP27.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw met with the the US special envoy on climate John Kerry at the annual UN climate conference.

The pair discussed the controversial topic of payment by developed countries to poorer ones for the loss and damage already caused by climate change.

It has dominated discussion at COP this year, and was previously blocked from even being on the agenda by the US and other rich countries.

Shaw and Kerry also discussed engagement with the Pacific.

NZ given Fossil of the Day award

Aotearoa has been given the 'Fossil of the Day' award at COP for the second year in a row.

Climate Action Network International said that was because it believed that overnight New Zealand negotiators did not support setting up a separate funding pool for loss and damage.

It is something Pacific countries have been calling for.

James Shaw

Climate Minister James Shaw is facing more pressure regarding his position on agricultural emissions and the way New Zealand negotiators have behaved at COP27. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Greenpeace climate spokesperson Christine Rose said it was an embarrassing form of recognition on the global stage.

New Zealand negotiators said more work was needed on the detail of what how a new fund would work.

"Establishing fund without certainty around what that means would require high

levels of confidence that we have a shared understanding of what we are working on,

and how," negotiators said.

"Listening to the interventions, it doesn't seem we have this.

"NZ has said previously we think this is urgent. We committed funding this week to

underscore that point. But we also think we need to get this right.

"At this COP we have an opportunity to move toward the shared understanding we

need by agreeing on a few principles that ensure a fund is as useful as possible."

Rose said this was wilful obstruction, because we did not live in a perfect world.

"The pursuit of perfection and nailing down all the details ... [is] standing in the way of taking the essential first steps forward that will get this funding mechanism in place."

Earlier this week the Government announced it was setting aside $20 million from already allocated money to go towards loss and damage.

Rose said it is disappointing that New Zealand didn't follow up this announcement with greater action.

Shaw said the $20 million signals commitment and the desire to make progress on the issue.

"We want to make sure we don't foreclose any options on the precise arrangements for how loss and damage funding is delivered, as small countries like those in the Pacific can find working with the large global funds quite difficult and frustrating.

"We want to ensure that regional and bilateral arrangements are also encouraged."

He said our focus now should be on getting more rich nations to make financial commitments.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta previously said she was not opposed to a centralised fund, but also supported a wide range of funding arrangements.

NZ moves from 'low' to 'medium' ranked country on climate action

A climate campaigner said New Zealand rising a couple places in rankings on climate action was a step forward but hardly worth celebrating.

The Climate Change Performance Index is released by climate NGOs and pressure groups to increase transparency of country's climate change policy.

New Zealand is now placed 33rd, and has moved from a 'low' to a 'medium' performing country.

Oil Change International Global Industry campaign manager David Tong said Aotearoa was one of this largest emitters per person of climate gases in the world.

"When you look at the expert reviewers comments, the feedback is really that there's a failure to address those agricultural emissions.

"And that the emissions response plan does not align with [the goal to keep warming below 1.5 degrees of warming], despite the aspirations of the Zero Carbon Act."

David Tong said if New Zealand did not make progress on agricultural emissions it could face protectionist trade sanctions from the EU.

Shaw to give speech at COP27 overnight

James Shaw arrived for the second week of the UN climate talks.

Tomorrow, Shaw will attend a Ministerial roundtable meeting with other Pacific leaders, and will give a plenary speech giving New Zealand's national statement.

The technical work by negotiators ends tomorrow, with ministers to take over talks to hammer out solutions by Friday (NZ time).

About 13 issues under discussion in the first week remain outstanding, which "might just be a record," opined a long-time delegate.

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