Can he confirm that New Zealand’s delegation to the United Nations climate change talks in Vienna tried to block non-binding emission reduction targets of 25 to 40 percent for industrialised countries; if so, was this delegation acting on his instructions or instructions from a member of his Cabinet?
No, I cannot confirm that matter. Indeed, New Zealand’s plenary statement began: “First, I would like to reiterate New Zealand’s readiness to take on new quantitative commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Is he telling the House that reports from delegates and observers at the conference, which have been widely reported in the global media over the last 4 days, stating that New Zealand did line up with the countries that were opposing those targets, have got it all wrong; if so—which would be good news—why has the New Zealand Government not publicly corrected them?
If the Government chose to respond to every exaggerated bit of rhetoric from non-governmental organisations, we would never get down to business. It appears that Greenpeace is actually quite happy with the result from Vienna, but it appears to suggest this was obtained against the allegedly shameful wishes of the New Zealand delegation. In fact, the truth is the reverse: the New Zealand delegation, at the request of the chair of the meeting, was instrumental in drafting the text that unblocked the negotiations.
Has the Minister received any reports on how climate change got on the APEC agenda?
Yes, in respect of the APEC agenda it is, of course, well known that New Zealand’s Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, was instrumental in getting climate change on to the APEC agenda. It is true—and it was reported accurately that way last year—that this Government has been advancing climate change solutions for many years. We are not johnny-come-latelys, and we have never said that climate change was a hoax.
How can this Government have any credibility on climate change negotiations, either in Vienna or Sydney, when official UN figures show that New Zealand’s emissions are up 10 percent from when Labour came into office, and are growing at twice the rate of Australia’s emissions and five times the rate of the United States’ emissions; and do not these figures, and the Government’s opposition in Vienna to emission targets, make a mockery of the Prime Minister’s talk of carbon neutrality?
I disagree again with the characterisation that Dr Smith has of Australia’s emissions. I also put on record that it is absolutely clear that both the United States and Australia have far, far higher rates of emissions than does New Zealand. I do not think there is any doubt in the minds of most that New Zealand already has a substantial number of emission reduction initiatives under way, and of course we have more coming soon.
Can I just confirm that the Minister is saying that contrary to news reports, New Zealand did support a target of a 25 to 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2020?
I am, Dr Smith, if you give me the chance. I can confirm that the representatives of the New Zealand Government explicitly noted that we are willing to take on binding targets. Further, the New Zealand Government has always been of the view that we need a multilateral agreement that works; we are not willing to subscribe to agreements that will not work.
Will New Zealand be supporting the leaked draft APEC declaration that proposes replacing the real emission reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol with a plan to allow an increase in emissions, as long as that increase is slower than the rate of economic growth; and is that one of the sorts of agreements that would work?
An international agreement that was focused solely on intensity would not work and would not be supported by New Zealand.
Is there any risk to our European Union export market as a result of the Government’s perceived or real actions to weaken the international climate change regime; if so, what will the Minister do to address that perception?
There is no doubt that, internationally, New Zealand is regarded as being one of the countries that wants to find a meaningful, practical, but real means of reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions. It is very rare—
Settle down! There is no doubt that New Zealand’s efforts in that regard, internationally, are well regarded. Indeed, we are the only southern hemisphere country to have taken on binding annex 1 commitments.
I seek leave to table the official record of greenhouse gas emissions, showing that New Zealand—
Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.
I seek leave to table New Zealand’s plenary statements, which reiterated New Zealand’s—