NZ Climate Change Minister’s first act on climate ignores Pacific’s pleas

Paula Bennett’s first act as incoming Climate Change Minister has been to reject pleas from the Pacific Islands for New Zealand to back a 1.5 degree limit to global warming that could give them the chance of survival, the Green Party has said.

Minister Bennett refused to give New Zealand’s support to an explicit goal in the Paris climate agreement to limit global warming to a 1.5 degree increase, despite growing support from allies including AustraliaCanada and Pacific nations for a 1.5 degree limit.

“The Minister’s refusal comes amidst pleas from our Pacific neighbours and close allies for a much more ambitious emissions reduction target that could help limit global warming,” said Green Party Pacific spokesperson Marama Davidson.

“Simply paying lip service to the plight of our Pacific neighbours is not enough. The Pacific Islands need a 1.5 degree limit to have a chance of surviving the effects of climate change.

“The National Government is appeasing polluting industries. It needs to stand with our Pacific neighbours and back a global agreement that puts their lives and futures first,” said Davidson.

Peter Emberson, Director of Climate Change for the Fiji Government, said overnight that “any goal that goes beyond the 1.5 degrees Celsius is going to wreak havoc on a lot of coastal communities”, and that a 1.5 degree goal is “imperative, we need it now to safeguard our survival”.