8 Nov 2022

Jacinda Ardern skips COP27, says commitment to climate change won't be questioned

10:00 am on 8 November 2022
Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is defending her decisions to again not attend the annual UN climate conference, saying she is instead going to APEC and the East Asia Summit later this month.

More than 100 world leaders will make appearances at the two-week COP27 conference under way in Egypt, including the US and French presidents, and the new UK Prime Minister.

Key players China, India, and Russia were not attending.

In 2020, Ardern declared a climate change emergency, but she has never gone to COP as Aotearoa's leader.

Her decision has been criticised by the National Party, but Ardern said New Zealand prime ministers had not routinely attended COP meetings.

Climate experts were not expecting many splashy new pledges at this conference, with Egypt wanting the focus to be on implementing promises already made.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw would represent Aotearoa, flying out later this week.

A view from the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly known as COP27, at the Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.

COP27 is taking place in Egypt. Photo: MOHAMED ABDEL HAMID/AFP

Ardern said no one would question her commitment to climate change.

"In fact one of the things I've been at great pains to ensure is that within the Asia-Pacific region where climate change has not had the profile it needs, that I ensure in every contribution I make I raise the issue of climate change and the impact it's having on our region and regional security.

"There was a time when I was sometimes one of only two leaders that discussed this significant issue, but now we are starting to see change."

Ardern said she also raised climate change in her speech to the United Nations in September, at the Pacific Islands Forum, and in her White House meeting with US President Joe Biden.

James Shaw

Climate Change Minister James Shaw. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Ardern said she has complete faith in Shaw.

"He is a minister, he applies Cabinet's collective responsibility and represents New Zealand's interests well at COP - always has.

"If I have the opportunity in the future to attend a COP I would like to, but I also just have to make sure I can fulfil all of my other responsibilities."

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