COP21: New Zealand gets 2 ‘Fossil of the Day’ awards from environmental NGOs

By @vitthernandez on
Tim Goser
New Zealand's Trade Minister Tim Groser wears a lei while standing for a family photo during the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, at the Westin Resort in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii July 30, 2015. Reuters/Marco Garcia

Climate Action Network International (CAN), a global coalition of environmental NGOs, gave last week the Fossil of the Day award to New Zealand and Belgium.

The New Zealand government was cited for urging nations to phase out fossil fuel subsidies but at the same time granting $80 million to prop up fossil fuel production. In a press release, CAN accused New Zealand Prime Minister John Key of hypocrisy because at a Friends of Fuel Subsidy Reform event, he claimed the country is a leader on fossil fuel subsidy abolition.

CAN notes that since Key became prime minister in 2008, fossil fuel production subsidies jumped seven-fold. At the same time, he was quoted as saying that the country “doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be a leader in climate change.”

On Wednesday, New Zealand got a second Fossil of the Day award at the 2015 Climate Conference in Paris (COP21), reports the New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD). The award is for Wellington’s role in blocking compensation for vulnerable nations for climate change damage in the draft text for the Paris Agreement.

Also given a dishonourable mention is outgoing New Zealand Climate Change Minister Tim Groser for his alleged “lackluster climate leadership.” Groser, the concurrent Trade Minister, has been appointed this week as New Zealand’s ambassador to Washington. He will be replaced by Paula Bennett.

NZYD notes that the dishonourable mention “is a fitting end” to Groser’ career are climate change spokesman. Under his leadership, there was a 700 percent boost in fossil fuel subsidies in five years, insufficient emission reduction target landing the country a berth in the bottom 20 percent of national pledges and per capita Green Climate Fund contribution 12 times lower than the average, says NZYD.

They say these two awards in one day is a severe rebuke to the Key government’s attempt to block compensation for the most vulnerable and impacted communities. “It is galling that while National gives massive handouts to big oil, they support cutting compensation from the text,” says NZYD spokesperson Natalie Jones.

She pushed for future proofing the Pacific by boosting Wellington’s inadequate contribution to the Green Climate Fund and doing all it can to help its neighbours. “Friends don’t let friends drown without offering a helping hand and OKNew Zealand can and should do better,” Jones adds.

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