Sunday, April 14, 2024

COP26: NZ continues to lead by example

Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw has marked the end of COP26 talks in Glasgow by saying it was “well past time to move from talk to action” in addressing the global climate emergency.

“Now COP26 has come to a close, attention needs to turn to the action countries must take to decarbonise their economies,” he said.

“For years we have been discussing the detailed rules that sit under the Paris Agreement. With much of that now finalised, countries can get on with the crucial work of implementation.

“New Zealand will continue to lead by example here, and show the world what meaningful, ambitious and lasting climate action looks like,” the Minister said.

He said the final agreement from COP26 did include progress on a range of priority areas for the Government, including on raising ambition and international cooperation to cut emissions.

The key parts of the final agreement are:

  • A requirement for countries to strengthen their carbon-cutting pledges as necessary by the end of 2022 to make sure they align with the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees;
  • A new work programme to help accelerate climate ambition. This is a significant development as it means an annual check on progress will be permanently on the agenda for future COPs;
  • Long-awaited rules to ensure the environmental integrity of global carbon markets and transparency in how climate action is reported;
  • A recognition of the need to protect human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples when taking action to cut emissions;
  • An agreement to accelerate efforts to phase-down unabated coal and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies – and for this to be done in a way that supports a just transition for those whose work and communities are affected.

“Our Government is already making some strides on many of the key issues agreed at COP. We have strengthened our global emission reduction target, committed to phasing out coal, and supported a just transition in the parts of the country most affected by action on climate change,” Mr Shaw said.

“The new emissions reduction target the Prime Minister and I announced on the eve of COP26 will ensure the climate pollution New Zealand is responsible for in 2030 will be half what it is today. This brings us closer into line with what the science says is required to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. 

“However, as well as setting more ambitious long-term targets, addressing the climate crisis also requires a great many changes, large and small, that together will add up to a better, cleaner future. And, again, our Government is making some progress.”

He said that to stay within the agreed goal of 1.5 degrees of warming, ambition and action would need to accelerate in New Zealand and around the world.

“The Emissions Reduction Plan we publish next year will be crucial to this.”

“The final plan will set the direction for climate action in New Zealand for the next 15 years. Over this time we will need to cut carbon pollution from nearly everything we do – from the way we grow our food, to how we generate energy to heat our homes, to the way we get around our towns and cities.

“We will need to do this in a way that enhances the role of nature-based solutions, such as wetlands and native forests, while fostering a just transition that leaves no community, no family, and no person behind,” Mr Shaw said.

He added that the significance of countries agreeing to a set of rules that will ensure genuine emissions reductions the world over should not be underestimated. 

“This has been a long standing priority for New Zealand. What has been agreed at COP26 will ensure that when countries work together to increase their climate ambition and lower the cost of emissions reductions, it is done in a way that maintains environmental integrity.”

The final agreement noted with ‘deep regret’ that the goal of providing US$100 billion annually to support poorer countries to transition to clean energy and adapt to a warmer world has not yet been met.

“This is clearly disappointing. However, shortly before COP the Prime Minister and I did announce a fourfold increase in the climate aid we provide to the Pacific and other lower-income countries, which reflects New Zealand’s fair share of the $100 billion goal.”

“And so, even though the global goal has not yet been met, New Zealand will still support our Pacific neighbours and others transition toward clean energy, as well as adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change,” Mr Shaw said.  

The final agreement also included a commitment for countries to keep working on how to support vulnerable countries that are already experiencing the losses and damages associated with climate change.

“Our Government will continue pushing for increased global support for Pacific countries suffering damage caused by climate impacts such as rising sea levels and more extreme weather,” Minister Shaw said.

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