(A post by a New Zealand Youth Delegation participant in Copenhagen)
“New Zealand stakeholder briefing meeting number one. Negotiators?”
“Right. Item one. What should we talk about?”
And thus the first New Zealand briefing of day two of COP15 began, just like an episode of Flight of the Conchords. Small office, laminated sign, faded flag, not many people. The only thing missing was a poster saying “New Zealand – ewe should come,” or something of the like.
New Zealand really shows its importance at the UNFCCC by having a tiny office positioned strategically in the far corner of the delegation offices (and being told to pay $24 if the wanted another chair). The stakeholder briefing meeting I went to this morning was small and informal – but should get bigger and more detailed as things go on. Nothing much has happened at COP15 yet, just openings of negotiations. The meetings really are a great opportunity though; an incredible advantage of coming from such a small country that basically all Kiwis are welcome to come and talk details with the bureaucrats about what’s happening, and even argue about policy every day.
But we do have to remember that we’re not that big a player, but we can have a great positive impact. However, currently our 10 to 20% emissions reduction (below 1990 levels by 2020) targets will not help the developed world reach the 25 to 40% cuts necessary to stop dangerous climate change – and they are highly conditional.
For New Zealand to go to a 20% target, it wants to see global targets set at a level where temperature rises are limited to 2°C (which New Zealand itself wont be going far enough to reach). There are four other demands, including wanting to be able to purchase offsets to be able to reach most of those emission cuts off shore – meaning we’d be paying others to do what we don’t want to do, even though ultimately everyone needs to substantially cut emissions. We also want to be able to grow lots of trees tat home to achieve these offsets. Without these, and other conditions being met (many of which having a low level of probability of success) New Zealand’s target will be much lower than 20%.
So New Zealand is very demanding for such a small player. In reality we should actively be a positive voice for climate change to protect ourselves, our Pacific neighbours who are drowning under rising seas, and everyone else from the worst effect of climate change. There is so much more we could do, and that would be a huge business opportunity for us – already being well and truly seized by countries like Norway who have experienced strong economic growth recently, and plan to be carbon neutral by 2030. What ever happened to Helen Clark’s desires for NZ to become carbon neutral too?
There’s so much we could do, we’ve got a really talented negotiating team here, and New Zealand has a good reputation of purity to live up to. Let’s hope John Key has (another) change of heart and directs the New Zealand Delegation to push for a deal we could truly be proud of. That’s what COP15 should be about for the humble but talented Kiwis.