SIR GE­OF­FREY PALMER QC, FOR­RMER PRIME MIN­IS­TER OF NEW ZEALAND

Element - - Climate Change -

Cli­mate change is a wickedly dif­fi­fi­fi­cult prob­lem.

It raises big pub­lic pol­icy is­sues that de­mand ac­tion. The longer we put off the steps nec­es­sary to mit­i­gate cli­mate change the more dif­fi­cult the ad­just­ments will be.

The key is­sue re­volves around reach­ing an in­ter­na­tional agree­ment to trans­form the economies of the world by re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions to achieve sus­tain­abil­ity.

Time is run­ning out – the tip­ping point is not much more than twenty years away. Right now green­house gas emis­sions are out of con­trol. Since 1992, when the United Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change was ne­go­ti­ated and agreed at Rio de Janeiro, the na­tions of the world have been at­tempt­ing to reach agree­ment on how to com­bat cli­mate change.

There have been 20 meet­ings over the years but very lit­tle has been achieved.

The Paris meet­ing is get­ting close to the “Last Chance Sa­loon.”

If the next twenty years yield so lit­tle as the past twenty years, cat­a­strophic cli­mate change will be be­yond cure.

Paris must pro­duce a legally bind­ing agree­ment that obliges na­tions to get on a path to re­duce their car­bon emis­sions to avoid global warm­ing be­yond 2 de­grees cel­sius. But we al­ready know Paris will fail in that aim. We know it be­cause the In­tended Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tions coun­tries have of­fered go­ing into Paris will not be enough.

To reach the goal will take fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tions af­ter Paris.

The good news is that there ex­ists a path­way that will al­low the bat­tle to be won.

But de­ter­mined ac­tion will be re­quired to make deep cuts in emis­sions quickly.

New Zealand has made a low-ball of­fer for Paris. It will al­low a large in­crease in our green­house gas emis­sions above 1990 lev­els.

No path­way has been an­nounced by the Gov­ern­ment as to how it will meet its own an­nounced tar­get of re­duc­ing its emis­sions by 50 per cent by 2050.

If ev­ery coun­try acted as New Zealand has, the in­crease in tem­per­a­ture will ex­ceed 3 or per­haps 4 de­grees, re­sult­ing in cat­a­strophic con­se­quences.

The New Zealand Gov­ern­ment needs an open, pro­gres­sive and flex­i­ble ne­go­ti­at­ing stance. For too long New Zealand has been go­ing back­wards on the is­sue. Our do­mes­tic law is a mess. Our in­ter­na­tional stance makes us a lag­gard.

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