Climate groups call 'hypocrisy' on NZ's fossil fuel stance

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 1, 2015
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New Zealand lawmakers and environment groups expressed embarrassment on Tuesday after the country was singled out for "hypocrisy" at the Paris climate change talks.

The Climate Action Network (CAN) international coalition of climate campaign groups awarded New Zealand the first "Fossil of the Day" award of the talks after Prime Minister John Key urged other countries to end fossil fuel subsidies.

Key had presented United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary Christiana Figueres with a message from close to 40 nations calling for the removal of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

"Research shows phasing out these subsidies could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 10 percent," Key said in a statement issued from his office.

"Countries subsidized fossil fuels to the tune of 500 billion U.S. dollars in 2014. These subsidies have the perverse effect of encouraging businesses and consumers to burn more fossil fuel and create more emissions," he said.

"It makes no sense to be calling for emissions reductions on one hand, while subsidising emissions on the other."

However, CAN accused Key of "phoney grandstanding."

"Prime Minister John Key showed a degree of hypocrisy by claiming, at a Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform event, that New Zealand is a leader on fossil fuel subsidy abolition -- despite the country's fossil fuel production subsidies increasing seven-fold since his election in 2008," said a CAN statement.

Key also came under fire after he presented New Zealand's relatively low target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions as a "strong contribution" to combating climate change.

He told leaders in Paris that the target of reducing emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 was "a significant increase on our current target of 5 percent below 1990 emission levels by 2020."

Leader of the main opposition Labor Party, Andrew Little, said Key was embarrassing New Zealand on the world stage by posturing over climate change while saying New Zealand should reduce per-person emissions only a quarter as quickly as Europe.

"New Zealand used to be a leader on the world stage, a country with integrity that would do the right thing. John Key is an insult to that legacy," Little said in a statement.

Energy spokesperson for the opposition Green Party Gareth Hughes said in a statement that with the world's attention on the Paris talks, "the New Zealand government is being acknowledged internationally for all the wrong reasons."

Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman said in a statement that it was "fundamentally hypocritical" to call on others to remove fossil fuel subsidies, while subsidizing the oil industry at home to the tune of 46 million NZ dollars (30.47 million U.S. dollars) a year.

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