Element - - Climate Change -

The UN cli­mate talks in Paris could rep­re­sent a step for­ward for the planet, but a big step back­wards for New Zealand.

De­spite the shock of the re­cent terror at­tacks, a univer­sal agree­ment is still likely to be reached.

The ma­jor play­ers are heav­ily in­vested in see­ing the talks suc­ceed. There’s been con­sid­er­able progress.

Obama re­jected the Key­stone pipe­line, China and the US have com­mit­ted to a shared cli­mate vi­sion, and just this week the OECD fi­nalised a his­toric deal to cut fund­ing for coal-fired power plants.

Key is­sues are whether the Paris agree­ment will be suf­fi­ciently am­bi­tious to limit cli­mate change to safe lev­els, and what role, if any, New Zealand will play.

New Zealand is well placed to show lead­er­ship and se­cure the eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties of a global tran­si­tion away from fos­sil fu­els. Un­for­tu­nately, we’re set to do the op­po­site.

New Zealand’s re­duc­tion tar­get for Paris is so lack­ing in am­bi­tion that we could sat­isfy th­ese obli­ga­tions through cre­ative ac­count­ing alone. We needn’t re­duce emis­sions at all.

Alarm­ingly, New Zealand is on track to emit more green­house gas per capita than the US by 2025.

We could be util­is­ing our ex­per­tise in re­new­able en­ergy to lead multi-bil­lion dol­lar projects off­shore, and em­brac­ing the in­no­va­tive po­ten­tial of clean tech and elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Yet in­stead of us­ing Paris as a plat­form to en­hance our rep­u­ta­tion and fu­ture-proof our eco­nomic in­ter­ests, New Zealand’s strat­egy in­volves do­ing as lit­tle as pos­si­ble. It’s ir­re­spon­si­ble, and a wasted op­por­tu­nity.

The longer we wait to im­ple­ment real ac­tion, the harder it will be, and the more it will cost. The world is mov­ing on, and New Zealand risks be­ing left be­hind.

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