Otago Daily Times

Ardern references family in climate message


WELLINGTON: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has used the example of her ‘‘climate sceptic’’ grandmothe­r to push Apec leaders to do their parts when it comes to climate change.

She has also urged them to ‘‘not repeat the mistakes of history by retreating into protection­ism’’.

Ms Ardern made the comments at the virtual Apec summit yesterday, while being ‘‘interviewe­d’’ by Microsoft president Brad Smith.

Because of Covid19, the annual event — which is usually hosted in one of the 21 member countries — was moved entirely online.

Leaders of the countries still meet each other, as they normally do during the Apec summits, but they are doing so via video call.

The main leaders’ meeting was last night.

Speaking to Mr Smith, Ms Ardern said she hoped the outcome of the meeting would be leaders agreeing on a ‘‘new vision’’ for the Asia Pacific.

This would include a continued focus on climate change.

To illustrate her point, she referenced a conversati­on between her grandmothe­r and her father some years ago.

‘‘She was a climate sceptic — not a believer in the science or the arguments around it,’’ Ms Ardern said, of her grandmothe­r.

‘‘She was expressing that view to my father and I remember him saying ‘Well, mother, I may not understand the science of it but I know what I saw when I was in the Pacific’.’’

Ms Ardern said her father told a story about how the island chiefs would show him where they used to play in the water as children and where the water level was now.

‘‘You can’t deny what you see.’’ Ms Ardern was talking about rising ocean levels as a result of climate change.

Another key part of her address was a call for Apec leaders to continue trading with each other.

‘‘Trade has been the engine of growth and prosperity in Apec since it was founded 30 years ago,’’ she said.

‘‘As we confront this generation’s biggest economic challenge, we must not repeat the mistakes of history by retreating into protection­ism.’’

She did not mention it by name, but this was probably a reference to the United States and the Trump Administra­tion’s scepticism of multicount­ry trade deals, such as the CPTPP.

If that was not pointed enough, she also said: ‘‘Apec must continue to commit to keeping markets open and trade flowing.’’

This year’s host, and chair country, of Apec is Malaysia.

It will then be New Zealand’s turn to host. — The New Zealand Herald

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