18 Nov 2022

COP27: 'There are clearly moves afoot to try and water down decisions'

1:13 pm on 18 November 2022
James Shaw

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says not reaching an agreement would be particularly bad for Pacific island nations Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

There is a possibility an agreement won't be reached at COP27, with bad faith actors trying to pull back on previous agreements, says Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw told Morning Report the negotiations at COP27 have been the worst he's seen.

"Things do get pretty hairy late in the second week but this is probably worse than I've seen before."

There was "quite a lot of good will" on some things but the process has been poor, making it difficult to reach an agreement, Shaw said.

"On the 1.5 target there's definitely some bad faith actors trying to pull back from things that we've already agreed at previous COPs," he said.

"There are clearly moves afoot to try and water down decisions that have already taken place.

"Sometimes a country will be speaking through other countries as well and that does make it very difficult to discern precisely what's going on and who's behind it."

Not reaching an agreement would be particularly unfortunate for Pacific island nations "who are really looking for progress on action for reducing emissions but also on this very difficult issue around the level of financial support they get from developed countries", he said.

Developing countries argue they did not cause climate change and should get money over and above other financing to compensate for the damage it has wrought - known as loss and damages.

New Zealand has offered $20 million to signal to other developed countries that things needed to get moving, Shaw said.

"I think part of the reason why we haven't made any progress over the past 26 years or so is because people are stuck in definitional arguments."

New Zealand was attempting to play a bridge building role, he said.

"You've got at least two, if not more, very stuck positions here and we've been saying look, if you look at the Pacific islands, they've had a devil of a time working with some of the other large multinational development banks and so on, which is why we tend to devote most of our support directly to the Pacific, because we can move more nimbly."

New Zealand was not opposed to a fund but the wider ecosystem of support needed to be looked at, he said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs