New Zealand has a ‘duty to support’ the Pacific

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the pace of progress on climate action remains “very slow and really frustrating” but that new funds for the devastation facing Pacific nations would “signal” a firm position on the New Zealand issue.

Wednesday, the The government has announced that it will give Pacific countries $20 million to deal with the devastation that is being brought to island nations due to climate change. Shaw said the money wouldn’t go far enough but it was a start.

“It will obviously make a difference to the places that receive this money,” he said.

“For us, it’s really about reporting – given that we’re only the third country in the world to actually put money into the loss and damage category.

“It’s really about signaling to other wealthier countries like us at the OECD to say, ‘Look, we’ve all come out of the Industrial Revolution pretty well. There are countries that are really feeling the pinch. effects right now – we have a duty to support them.'”

The term “loss and damage” is used to refer to the destructive effects of global warming on human societies and the natural environment.

At COP27, the issue was included in the official conference agenda – a victory for the small countries which have been demanding for years that the question be debated.

Countries vulnerable to climate impacts have argued that relatively wealthier nations should be responsible for mitigating the damage from their historic emissions.

The USA and EU countries have blocked initiatives to discuss the issue for years – having feared huge bills for shows dating back centuries.

Over the past year, Scotland, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Austria are other nations that have broke the “taboo” on the promise of money for loss and damage.

Shaw said he would “not name names” when asked to explain which countries were resistant to compensation for loss and damage.

“This problem we had around, sort of, assigning accountability and blame was one of the reasons these things got blocked,” he said.

“We’re trying to move beyond that and say, basically, let’s keep it going.”

He said the New Zealand government was taking a stand against the slow progress on the issue.

“What is likely to happen at this conference is that there will be an agreement to come up with, sort of, a framework or terms of reference – and there is currently a debate about whether whether a fund should be created before these terms of reference are completely ironed out,” the climate change minister said.

“It’s taken many, many years for the world to approach this – and these countries can’t afford to wait for us to talk more about it.”

Meanwhile, Shaw said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “definitely” created a greater “sag feeling” for conference attendees in Egypt.

“There are conferences where you feel like you’re making progress and others where you feel like you’re not making progress… There’s definitely a sense of sadness about this one – especially because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the associated energy crisis.”

However, the climate change minister said negotiators were “working around” rather than letting it become “another roadblock”.

When asked, he continued to bemoan “slow” progress on climate action, but was optimistic that New Zealand was cutting emissions.

“Progress is really slow and it’s really frustrating, but I think the period we’re in right now is where we’re decoupling our growth and our emissions,” Shaw said.

“That means – over the next few years – that things will continue to spread through the economy, the way they do, but our emissions will go down at the same time. It’s a path that very, very few countries in the world world have managed to achieve.”