11 Dec 2011

Green groups criticise NZ role in climate change talks

11:53 am on 11 December 2011

Greenpeace says New Zealand is signing the death warrants of its Pacific neighbours over climate change.

A climate conference in Durban, South Africa, is considering a proposal that says talks on a new deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions should be completed by 2015 at the latest.

Greenpeace says New Zealand's Government appears to be resisting legally binding commitments which are critical to stopping runaway climate change.

A spokesperson Bunny McDiarmid says New Zealand is in a group of obstructive countries, including America, India and Australia, which are diluting the moves progressive countries are trying to take.

She says the European Union and small island states are pushing for legally binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms McDiarmid says New Zealand's response is a terrible indictment of its commitment to the international community.

The Australian green movement is also furious with what it says is New Zealand's destructive influence at the talks in Durban.

The deputy leader of the Australian Green Party, Christine Milne, says the head of the New Zealand delegation Tim Groser has been helping play a damaging role which leaves the talks at a standoff.

She says it is quite possible the summit will collapse as a result.

However, Victoria University professor Jonathon Boston, who lectures in climate policy, says the Government has said it would consider signing up to another agreement, if there are certain conditions.

He says New Zealand has always said that Pacific Island nations will not be sacrified for the sake of building New Zealand's own economy.

A spokesperson for Mr Groser, who is the Minister for International Climate Change Negotiations, says he will not comment on any criticisms until the conference wraps up.