A landmark report on climate change makes for grim reading and should serve as a final warning to governments around the world, including our own, says Labour’s Climate Change Spokesperson Moana Mackey.
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report considers man-made global warming “extremely likely” – an elevation from the IPCC’s 2007 assessment which classified it as “very likely”.
“While this might seem like semantics to some, in scientific terms it is extremely significant. It reflects the overwhelming scientific consensus that it is human activities that have caused the problem and that only a change in human behaviour can mitigate the most serious impacts of climate change on our planet.
“That the IPCC has increased its projections of sea level rises is devastating news for many of our Pacific Island neighbours, who are already dealing with the reality of climate change.
“The assessment includes four scenarios representing four different sets of targets and emissions controls. Only two keep global temperatures below the 2 degree limit that countries have recognized as being required to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Both are based on significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions – well beyond the weak target set by the Government.
“New Zealand may represent only a small percentage of overall global emissions but we are one of the worst greenhouse gas polluters per capita in the world. How can we have any credibility asking the large emitting countries to make cuts if we are not pulling our weight?
“National has withdrawn from Kyoto, ripped the guts out of the Emissions Trading Scheme, and reversed every measure put in place by the last Labour Government to reduce our gross greenhouse gas emissions. It is sitting on its hands as a collapsing carbon price threatens the economic viability of our carbon forestry sector.
“A Labour Government will take climate change seriously and ensure that New Zealand does its fair share with a comprehensive climate change response including committing to the Kyoto framework and ensuring an effective price on carbon. That is exactly what is needed to spare our planet from the very worst effects of man-made global warming.”