Monday, December 11, 2023

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 11/12/23

Watts going on about climate change – minister’s speech sets out govt’s position to COP28

Just one bit of governmental news has been recorded on the Beehive website since Point of Order last checked on what our new bunch of ministers are up to.

It is a copy of the COP28 National Statement for New Zealand which has given Climate Change Minister Simon Watts his moment to shine at an international gathering of representatives from more than 100 countries that have pledged to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030.

As Newshub reports today, the summit hasn’t been plain sailing for New Zealand because we were late to sign the pledge (one of only a few OECD countries missing from the initial list of signatories).

New Zealand also received the first ‘Fossil of the Day’ award at COP28 over the Government’s decision to repeal the ban on oil and gas exploration.

The award is presented by the Climate Action Network to countries who are “doing the most to achieve the least” in terms of progress on climate change.

COP28 ends tomorrow.

Watts travelled to the annual climate summit with former climate change minister James Shaw.

Asked about his relationship with Shaw, Watts said the pair disagree on many things, but both are acting in the best interests of New Zealand.

“We agree on the targets, we agree on where we need to get to. We may differ on how we get there, and that’s a competition of ideas, but the fact that we have a bi-partisan position on the destination is actually a unique aspect for many large countries and actually it’s been raised to us in terms of that degree of maturity that New Zealand demonstrates does put us in a leadership position.”

The government’s position is set out in the statement posted on the Beehive website-

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The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report has made all too clear that the world is not on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, Watts said.

That’s why New Zealand remains resolutely focused on transitioning to a low-emissions future; to supporting Pacific resilience and collectively decarbonising the global economy.

This explains the commitment. It doesn’t explain the government plans – which Watts defended to Newshub – to resume offshore oil and gas exploration.

Next, in his speech, Watts referred to the “nationally determined contributions” (or NDCs) that are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of its long-term goals.

The government is committed to New Zealand’s NDC to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent below gross 2005 levels by 2030 and to the country’s 2050 domestic net zero target by tackling the key drivers of emissions, and working with the private sector so they make transformative investments:
  • in resilient infrastructure;
  • in renewable energy and cleaner low-carbon fuels; and
  • in new technologies to reduce agricultural emissions and capture carbon.
Our NDC implementation will be grounded in high quality data, transparency, accountability and stable pricing signals.

We will focus equally on adaptation and mitigation. We will develop a national Climate Adaptation Framework, informed by a range of stakeholders and partners, that will guide and prepare us for future climate impacts.

We’re also committed to collaborating with our Pacific neighbours on climate change (it is “the number one security threat to our region”).

We back the 2050 strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and the leadership of the Pacific Islands Forum on climate action.

We recognise that we must deliver on our collective commitment to the US $100 billion goal, and on loss and damage finance, and do it in a way that works for our partners in the Pacific.

Watts said “a course correction” is needed, and working together is critical for global prosperity in a carbon constrained future.

Together we can:
  • Collaborate and partner to innovate, and develop and deploy solutions;
  • Mobilise innovative financing to derisk climate savvy investment;
  • Scale up investment in research and technology to help us sustainably reduce agricultural emissions while ensuring food security;
  • Harness our trade and economic cooperation for beneficial climate outcomes;
  • Here, at COP28, commit to a global tripling of renewable electricity, doubling of energy efficiency and quickly and justly moving to a future where we no longer rely on fossil fuels.
New Zealand is proud to support several important initiatives launched here at COP28:
  • The Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Targets Pledge,
  • The COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health,
  • The Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture,
  • The Mutual recognition of certification schemes for renewable and low-carbon hydrogen and derivatives pledge, and
  • The COP28 Gender-Responsive Just Transition and Climate Action Partnership pledge
Watts said he was joined in Dubai by New Zealand’s largest business, and civil society presence at any COP.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

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