Doha Climate Conference – Looking to the Long TermClimate Change Issues
Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser and Associate Minister Simon Bridges have been leading the New Zealand delegation at the annual Climate Change Ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar.
“This Conference has been challenging and went a day over time, but we are now well placed to confront the real issue: the negotiation of a long-term comprehensive Climate Change Agreement,” says Mr Groser in Qatar.
“While the formal agreements are extremely technical, the bigger picture both internationally and specifically for New Zealand is clear. Internationally, the key requirement has been to refocus political and negotiating attention beyond the Kyoto Protocol to a more comprehensive agreement that is capable of dealing with the real environmental problem – the vast bulk of emissions that would never have been covered by Kyoto.
“That figure is 86% and will reach 90% of total global emissions in a few years. It is a matter of simple arithmetic that the only agreement that makes environmental sense long term is an agreement that deals with the bulk of emissions, not an increasingly small part of global emissions,” Mr Groser says.
The Ministers added that they were pleased agreement had been reached on amendments to the Kyoto Protocol that will allow European countries and Australia to continue to use its provisions for the next 8 years, starting from 2013. The Ministers confirmed that New Zealand was on track to fulfilling its own Kyoto commitment for the period 2008-2012 but that the next commitment would be made outside Kyoto.
“This is a long-term problem and we have a long-term strategic approach to deal with it. Internationally, all the focus should now be beyond Kyoto, which up to now has dominated negotiating and political attention, in spite of its decreasing coverage of global emissions. Domestically, we have a world-class emissions trading scheme which we have maintained at current settings in the recent review. At current, deeply depressed international carbon prices its economic impact is low but the Government has no intention of forcing NZ businesses and households to pay higher than world prices in the current difficult international economic climate,” Mr Groser says.
The Ministers noted that it would take some time for international carbon markets to absorb the implications of what had been agreed at Doha and they expected New Zealand carbon markets would be no exception. What was clear, however, was that New Zealand would continue to have access to existing Kyoto carbon markets at least until 2015. What happened after that would be deeply influenced by progress made in negotiating the more comprehensive international Climate Change Agreement as well as progress made in on-going discussions to build regional linkages amongst carbon markets.
“Meeting the real challenge of global climate change has been aptly described as the most complex international negotiating problem the global community has yet tackled. We have every expectation that further progress will be made, but it will be slow, incremental and controversial. New Zealanders should be deeply sceptical of quick fixes and piece-meal solutions. But we are confident that New Zealand has the right strategic long-term approach.”