Tuesday, 20 February 2007

So what's New Zealand going to do?

European Union ministers backed ambitious targets on Tuesday to cut greenhouse gas emissions unilaterally by at least 20 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. While short of the massive cuts necessary to halt a catastrophic temperature rise it still is a significant move in the right direction. The bloc may also be willing to increase the reduction to 30 percent by 2020 if other industrialised nations made similar cuts and "economically more advanced" developing countries contributed too. While there has been some opposition, most notably by Hungary and Poland and some concerns raised by Finland it appears likely that this target will form the basis of the bloc's negotiating position for a global agreement to cut emissions after 2012, when the first period covered by the Kyoto Protocol on climate change ends.

So what will be the New Zealand government's position? We have failed to reach our emissions target reductions this first round, so will we advocate for smaller reductions in the next? Are we going to push for including the fuel used in international travel in Kyoto? The Government now has a goal of a carbon neutral New Zealand so surely they should be directing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take a strong stand and set emission reduction targets internationally as big or bigger than the EU’s proposal.

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