New Zealand’s Consideration of Ethics and
Justice Issues in Formulating Climate
This is the second report on New Zealand (NZ) which responds to the research questions of the Project On Deepening National Responses to Climate Change On The Basis of Ethics and Justice, a joint project of the University of Auckland, School of Architecture and Planning and Widener University, School of Law, Environmental Law Center. To answer some of this project’s questions, a focus has been placed on a variety of publicly available NZ government climate change policy-related documents (see, for example: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/node/20725/?_ga=1.268284806.901924198.1440460784 ).
Crucially, the main conclusions of this report are:
• The current NZ government is acting highly unethically and unjustly, and contributing strongly to the intensifying formidable risk to vulnerable people and of failing to meet the objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
• Strong criticism of the NZ Government is warranted due to NZ’s exceptionally high per capita emissions rates and gross greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions that are projected to continue to trend upwards, while at the same time not advocating to the international community to take, and among their people to support, positions that ethics and justice would require of them
• It is recommended that the NZ government urgently reconsiders/makes explicit its position on NZ’s per capita emissions responsibility, as it could lead to the necessary advocacy/ethical leadership this report principally recommends
• Taking note of Local Government NZ’s leadership, the NZ government should, inter alia: advocate to the international community to achieve, and amongst their people to support, the objective of the UNFCCC, whilst advocating at the national and international levels for a science informed global ethic on sustainable development
• The NZ government and wider society, including higher education, NZ NGOs and the NZ media, must be made aware of the nation’s narrowly self-interested, highly unethical and unjust approach to climate change policy, and the serious implications of not addressing the ‘operational conclusions of sustainable development’, including the urgency to act ethically and justly
Please note that the 2015 questions differ to an extent in content and number from the previous report. The research questions and responses are as follows:
1. Identify the most recent national commitment on reducing ghg emissions (INDCs) made by the country and the date on which it was made.
As explained as part of the answer to question 1 in the previous report in relation to the objective of the UNFCCCC, the author defines ‘those who are most vulnerable to climate change’ broadly. This definition involves taking into account the overarching context of this global change and planetary boundary issue, being sustainable development and its ‘operational conclusions’ (Hadley 2015). Therefore ‘most vulnerable’ is defined as many/most of humanity in the short term and possibly all of humanity at some point in the long term. As time continues and the high level of global ghg emissions and atmospheric ghgs continues to trend upwards (UNEP 2014; WMO 2015), the risks to these vulnerable intensifies. These risks include impacts from current weather related disasters and their ‘threat multiplier’ nature (Huntjens and Nachbar 2015). Indeed human interference in the climate system is implicated in the horrendous and destabilising Syrian conflict (Kelley, Mohtadi et al. 2015). Current risks could also include the possibility of states that recognise this intensifying problem acting in a narrowly self-interested manner and taking their own form of precautionary measures, measures that could fracture international efforts to resolve current human rights issues and the apparent desire for an ideal of global sustainability (Hadley 2015). Ethical and justice based urgent action is imperative to lower these formidable and intensifying risks and to help prevent further associated deprivation.
In terms of NZ, Ministry for the Environment (MfE) analysis (2015) shows that NZ’s gross ghg emissions have increased from 66.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 1990 to 81MtCO2e in 2013, a 21.3% increase from 1990 levels . Methane from dairy cattle and carbon dioxide (CO2) from road transport are the major contributors to this increase (MfE 2013). NZ’s gross ghg emissions are projected to continue to trend upwards from 1990 levels (MfE 2013). Under a NZ government policies and measures scenario NZ’s gross ghg emissions are projected to rise to 82,244.2 gigagrams (Gg) CO2e by 2030 – a 38% increase from 1990 levels (MfE 2013). NZ’s per capita emissions in 2012 were the fifth highest among 40 Annex I countries at 17.2 tonnes of CO2e per person (MfE 2015).
The NZ government currently has four national ghg reduction targets, including a provisional post-2020 Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) which was submitted to the UNFCCC secretariat on the 7th of July 2015 (MfE 2015). The other three NZ reduction targets were discussed in the previous 2014 Ethics and Climate Change report. NZ’s four reduction targets are:
• an unconditional target of five per cent below 1990 ghg emissions levels by 2020
• a conditional target range of 10 to 20 per cent below 1990 ghg emissions levels by 2020
• a provisional post-2020 target (INDC) of 11 per cent below 1990 ghg emissions levels by 2030 (30 per cent below 2005 by 2030)
• a long-term target of 50 per cent below 1990 ghg emissions levels by 2050
The NZ government states that: ‘New Zealand will meet these responsibility targets through a mix of domestic emission reductions, the removal of carbon dioxide by forests and participation in international carbon markets.’ (MfE 2015).
2. Given that any national ghg emissions reduction target is implicitly a position on an atmospheric ghg concentration that will avoid dangerous climate change, to what extent has the nation expressly identified an atmospheric ghg level target goal or a warming limit that its INDC is designed to achieve and is it possible to quantitatively examine how the ghg emission target links quantitatively to an atmospheric ghg concentration or carbon budget?
The current UNFCCC agreed target for limiting warming above pre-industrial levels is for less than 2 degrees Celsius. The NZ government’s 2015 Cabinet paper on ‘New Zealand’s intended contribution to the new global climate change agreement’ recommended that the NZ government agree to announce and table a ghg emissions reduction target of 10% below 1990 emissions by 2030 (MfE 2015). As stated in answer to question 1, the final INDC target that was agreed to and tabled by the NZ government was 11% below 1990 emissions by 2030. The June Cabinet paper on NZ’s INDC that informed NZ’s submitted INDC target, states that: ‘Securing an effective global response which limits temperature rise to two degrees Celsius is in New Zealand’s interests.’ (MfE 2015, p2). The Cabinet paper makes only one other reference to the warming limit, this is in relation to key developed countries’ INDC targets/2020 targets collectively falling short of what is required (MfE 2015). NZ’s INDC does not mention an atmospheric ghg level target goal or a warming limit (NZ Government 2015). Though the UNFCCC upper limit of 2 degrees is explained as an issue of importance in the Cabinet paper, the paper does not explain that its recommended INDC reduction target is designed to achieve this upper limit (or a lower limit) (MfE 2015). Rather the INDC Cabinet paper and the NZ INDC show the NZ government is focussed on demonstrating a ‘progression’ on their current targets to 2020, with the Cabinet paper also showing concern for wanting to preserve NZ’s reputation as a ‘“responsible global citizen”’ (MfE 2015, p5; NZ Government 2015). As the Cabinet paper states: ‘I propose an INDC with an emissions reduction target of 10% below 1990 levels by 2030 across the whole economy. This shows sufficient progression and appropriately balances New Zealand’s domestic and international interests.’(MfE 2015, p1).
The government acknowledged the global carbon budget in an earlier public consultation document, however the Cabinet paper on NZ’s INDC or NZ’s INDC submission contains no information that makes it possible to quantitatively examine how NZ’s 2030 reduction target quantitatively links to an atmospheric ghg concentration or carbon budget (MfE 2015; MfE 2015; NZ Government 2015). To reiterate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report has identified, with analysis up until 2011, a limit of future carbon emissions of approximately 275 gigatonnes carbon (GtC) to have a greater than 66% chance of limiting warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (IPCC 2013). Another way of stating the situation is that ‘The remaining [carbon] quota is equivalent to just 20 years of continued emissions at today’s rate… and even less than 20 years if emissions continue to rise.’ (Royal Society of New Zealand 2015, p2). NZ’s high level of polluting non-carbon dioxide emissions are tied to the carbon intensive global economic system and carbon budget.
The Minister for Climate Change Issues, Tim Groser, also didn’t mention an atmospheric ghg level target goal, warming limit or carbon budget in his July 7th press release announcing the INDC target (MfE 2015). Importantly, such an omission can be seen to significantly hinder NZ citizens’ understanding of this intensifying severe threat. Raising public awareness of ethical and justice issues, for example through increasing public understanding of significant concepts such as the global carbon budget and its allocation, was a key recommendation to come out of the previous report on Ethics and Climate Change (Brown and Taylor 2015; Brown and Taylor 2015).
The government’s omission of how NZ’s INDC reduction target is designed to achieve a warming limit, and information that makes it possible to quantitatively examine how NZ’s 2030 reduction target quantitatively links to an atmospheric ghg concentration or carbon budget, can be seen to relate to its assessment of ‘fairness’ in its INDC (see answer to question 3), and subsequently ‘[how it has contributed] towards achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2.’ (parties to the UNFCCC 2014, p2). However, it is the author’s view that the NZ government’s main contribution towards achieving the objective of the UNFCCC should currently be to, inter alia, advocate, including advocacy at the national and international levels for a science informed global ethic on sustainable development (see answer to question 10 ‘recommendations’ in Hadley 2014, as well as answer to question 11 below).
3. Given that any national ghg emissions reduction target is implicitly a position on what ethics, justice and equity requires of it, to what extent has the nation expressly identified the justice or equity basis that it has considered in determining a ghg emissions reduction target percentage level?
As reported in the previous inaugural study the author was not aware of any instance where the incumbent three term government had expressly stated how it had taken justice into account when setting its ghg emissions reduction target (see answer to question 2 in Hadley 2014). Again in 2015 the author is not aware of any instance where the incumbent government has expressly stated how it has taken justice into account when setting its ghg emissions reduction target.
Over the past few years the current NZ government’s wording around its statements on doing its fair share on emissions reductions have to an extent been mixed, including being ‘committed to doing its fair share’ and ‘remain determined to do our fair share’ (MfE 2009, pv; Smith 2010; Groser 2011; Bridges 2012; MfE 2013, p2). The Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser’s 2015 statement on NZ doing its fair share in announcing the INDC, can be seen as particularly weak, where he states that: ‘While New Zealand’s emissions are small on a global scale, we are keen to make a fair and ambitious contribution to the international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions’ (MfE). Indeed the section on ‘Fairness’ in NZ’s INDC doesn’t refer to NZ being committed to or ‘keen’ to do its fair share in this context (NZ Government 2015).
The public consultation document on NZ’s INDC explains that the government has set three key objectives for its contribution, these are:
1. ‘It is seen as a fair and ambitious contribution – both by international and domestic audiences … in light of our unique national circumstances …
2. Costs and impacts on society are managed appropriately
… We need to ensure that our contribution is affordable to families and businesses …
3. It must guide New Zealand over the long term in the global transition to a low emissions world
… our contribution should provide a clear signal to New Zealand businesses and households about how we intend to transition to a low emissions economy, while not impacting on the competitiveness of New Zealand businesses’ (MfE 2015, p7)
The consultation document also states that ‘There are a number of factors that can help us work out what may be fair.’, and then lists ‘Greenhouse gas emissions per person’, ‘Carbon dioxide emissions per person’ and ‘National circumstances/cost’ as its ‘examples’ (MfE 2015, p11).
As noted above, the NZ INDC has a section on ‘Fairness’. Through this sections limited content it is possible to ascertain that NZ considers its provisional 11 per cent below 1990 levels reduction target fair on the basis of cost to the NZ economy, where the INDC states that: ‘The likely cost to the New Zealand economy of meeting the 2030 target in terms of GDP is greater than that implied by other Parties’ tabled targets.’ (NZ Government 2015, p5). The Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser’s press statement in announcing the INDC target, confirms the cost basis for its assessment on fair sharing, where he states: ‘In setting the new target, the Government needed to ensure it was achievable and to avoid imposing unfair costs on any particular sector or group of people.’ (MfE 2015). In the same press release Tim Groser also states that:
Almost 80% of our electricity is renewable already, and around half our emissions come from producing food for which there aren’t yet cost-effective technologies to reduce emissions. So there are fewer opportunities for New Zealand to reduce its emissions right now.
The government goes on to state in the NZ INDC that: ‘The limited domestic abatement potential available to New Zealand requires us to make use of global carbon markets to be able to make a contribution that progresses beyond our current target, as this INDC does.’ (NZ Government 2015, p5).
Importantly, the NZ government’s brief assessment of a fair reduction target in the INDC also includes stating NZ’s low portion of global emissions, but does not state NZ’s exceptionally high per capita ghg emissions rate. Despite the importance of per capita emission rates for meeting the objectives of the UNFCCC, and the awareness of the NZ government of this fact (MfE 2015, p6; MfE 2015, p11), this statement on fairness shows that the NZ government does not consider per capita ghg emissions to be part of a fair contribution. This policy is consistent with the government’s continued domestic strategy of publicly highlighting that NZ’s emissions account for a small portion of global emissions whilst omitting to mention NZ’s exceptionally high per capita emissions rate (see answer to question 2 in Hadley 2014) (MfE 2015; MfE 2015). The NZ government’s assessment/wrongheadedness on fairness suggests that its position is that it is not acting unjustly or unethically in respect to the profoundly important UNFCCC, however, this is not the case.
As explained in the 2014 report, the explanations given as to how the government has taken fairness into consideration in setting NZ’s 2020 (and 2050) reduction target revolve around NZ’s standard utilitarian economic interests and what other UNFCCC nations’ responses are, and not on ensuring that gross ghg emissions levels are on a safe pathway (see answer to question 2 in Hadley 2014). The same assessment applies to this 2015 report, though the government’s omission in its INDC of NZ’s per capita emissions alongside its statement that ‘New Zealand is responsible for low levels of emissions’ is cause for further concern as it is also at odds with the profound ethical and justice dimensions of the UNFCCC (NZ Government 2015, p4). This is also a position that is not conducive to leadership – despite the government’s awareness of the importance of being a leader as an Annex 1 developed country party (United Nations 1992, Art 3; MfE 2015, p11) – and is a position that is consistent with previous unethical and unjust statements on wanting to follow and not lead international progress (see answer to question 2 in Hadley 2014); as perhaps reflected in Tim Groser’s fore mentioned weak statement on NZ doing its fair share on emissions reductions in the INDC target announcement (MfE 2015).
Crucially, as was the case in the inaugural report, the current government can therefore be seen as acting highly unethically and unjustly, and contributing strongly to the intensifying formidable risks to vulnerable people and of failing to meet the objective of the UNFCCC. Importantly if the incumbent government changed/made explicit its position on NZ’s per capita emissions responsibility, it might lead to the necessary advocacy that this report and the previous NZ report recommends.
4. To what extent, if any, has the national debate about the nation’s INDC considered or acknowledged that the nation not only has economic interests in setting its ghg target but also ethical obligations to those who are most vulnerable to climate change?
The previous report on NZ reveals that the NZ government, up until the end of 2014, had not expressly considered that the nation not only has economic interests in setting a ghg emissions reduction target but also ethical obligations to those who are most vulnerable to climate change.
Again, for this 2015 update, the NZ government has not expressly considered that the nation not only has economic interests in setting a ghg emissions reduction target but also ethical obligations to those who are most vulnerable to climate change. As explained in answer to question three, along with not expressly identifying the justice basis for its INDC, the NZ government considers its provisional 11 per cent below 1990 levels reduction target fair on the basis of cost to the NZ economy and does not consider per capita ghg emissions to be part of a fair contribution, which perversely suggests that the government’s position is that it is not acting unjustly or unethically in respect to the UNFCCC.
In terms of wider parliamentary debate, Green party opposition spokesman on climate change, Dr Kennedy Graham, and Green party co-leader James Shaw have challenged the incumbent government on whether it is doing its fair share in safely combating climate change (NZ Government 2015; NZ Government 2015). Graham states in parliamentary question time: ‘Are we doing our fair share when the 11 percent target we are taking to Paris, if emulated by all nations, will leave homeless some 179,000 people in Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Tuvalu?’ (NZ Government 2015). However, these challenges are made without express reference to ethics or justice.
5. To what extent have NGOs or other major participants engaged in climate change policy formation at the national level examined the national INDC from an ethics, justice, or equity perspective?
The NZ government consulted the public on its post-2020 climate change target between May 7th and June 3rd 2015. The consultation involved a number of public meetings across NZ and the release of a government prepared discussion document which asked stakeholders to respond to certain issues. The government received over 17,000 submissions in total and approximately 1,700 people attended the meetings – noting that 99 per cent of those who specified a target level recommended a target of 40 per cent below 1990 by 2030 or zero carbon by 2050 (MfE 2015).
Following the consultation the MfE collated the information and published a summary of consultation responses. Relevant findings from the summary document include the observations: ‘A number of submitters felt that action on climate change was a moral responsibility.’ (MfE 2015, p6); that a key theme from the ‘NGOs’ stakeholder group was ‘New Zealand has a responsibility to act because of our strong economy and high per capita emissions, as well as the moral nature of the issue and ethical imperative to act.’ (MfE 2015, p13); that a key theme from the ‘Health professionals and associations’ stakeholder group was ‘urgent and ambitious action is vital for health, equity, human rights and climate justice and that the precautionary principle compels us to act now.’ (MfE 2015, p14); and that ‘a large number of people [from the public meetings] spoke about climate change being a moral cause, and that the need to take action was a moral responsibility.’ (MfE 2015, p20). Importantly, as set out in the recommendations at nationalclimatejustice.org, these findings appear to show that certain NZ NGOs are justifying their policy and action recommendations on ethical grounds and increasing public awareness of the ethical and justice implications of national climate policy (see: http://blogs.law.widener.edu/ncj/summary-0f-findings/#sthash.Iy8PWIfH.wur1owMi.dpuf ).
A couple of examples of how NZ NGOs can be seen to be basing their policy and action recommendations on ethical grounds/increasing public awareness of the ethical and justice implications of national climate policy include: OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council’s inclusion of its core value of health equity in its INDC consultation submission (OraTaiao: NZ Climate and Health Council 2015); Oxfam New Zealand’s INDC submission’s inclusion of commentary on NZ’s international obligation to contribute its fair share as set out in the UNFCCC (Oxfam New Zealand 2015).
6. To what extent has the national media covered issues concerning the national INDC with respect to ethical, justice, and equity issues?
The author is not aware of any instances in the NZ mainstream media where climate change has been covered in respect to ethical, justice, and equity issues. There are a few articles that include the criticism of NZ’s INDC in terms of the country doing its fair share on emissions reductions – for example see Fallow 2015 – but these articles do not explore the fundamental ethical and justice dimensions of the government’s particularly narrow self-interested approach to climate change policy.
7. Before any nation may adopt an INDC or climate policy it often has to satisfy national economic interests. Yet many nations fail to disclose the national economic interests that have actually affected the lack of aggressiveness of the national INDC when commitments are made under the UNFCCC. Given this, what is known about the actual basis for the aggressiveness of the national INDC?
The NZ INDC does not provide reasons why the NZ government has made any progression on its previous emissions reduction targets to 2020 (NZ Government 2015). However, the 2015 NZ Cabinet paper on ‘New Zealand’s intended contribution to the new global climate change agreement’ indicates a basis for a progression (MfE 2015). This basis for progress includes statements concerning the threat of climate change and NZ’s interests, specifically:
Tackling climate change is crucial to avoid economic costs and harm to people and the environment. … Securing an effective global response which limits temperature rise to two degrees Celsius is in New Zealand’s interests. … My recommended target represents progression but balances this against the need to manage costs on the New Zealand economy. I consider it sensible to preserve our international reputation and negotiating influence at this critical stage in negotiations. (MfE 2015, pp2, 9).
8. What formal mechanisms are available in the nation for citizens, NGOs and other interested organizations to question/contest the nation’s ethical position on climate change?
Please see answer to question six in Hadley 2014.
As explained in answer to question 5, the NZ government consulted the public on its post-2020 climate change target between May 7th and June 3rd 2015. Following this process the MfE observed that there was:
strong criticism about … the consultation process, including the short notice, insufficient advertising and number of public meetings… [and] the information provided in the Discussion Document, in particular about the representation of the costs, and the need for more information for stakeholders to make an informed submission. (MfE 2015, p4)
The MfE explains that as part of key themes from the consultation, stakeholders want greater involvement and engagement on climate change and that there were frequent requests for an independent commission on climate change (MfE 2015).
9. Are you aware of any regional, state, provincial, or local governments in your country that has acknowledged ethical responsibility for climate change? If so, what have they said?
A recent declaration by NZ local government leaders has, to an extent, expressly acknowledged ethical responsibility for climate change (LGNZ 2015). Deputy Mayor of Auckland, Penny Hulse announced the Local Government Leaders Climate Change Declaration at the Australia-New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference in October (LGNZ 2015). Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) President Lawrence Yule states that:
‘”[the declaration] encourages Government to be more ambitious with climate change mitigation measures and underlines our support for Government to work with councils, communities and businesses to develop and implement an ambitious transition plan towards a low carbon and resilient New Zealand… It also outlines key commitments our councils will take in responding to the opportunities and risks posed by climate change and recommends important guiding principles for responding to it.”’ (LGNZ 2015).
The declaration states, inter alia, that:
We have come together, as a group of Mayors representing local government from across New Zealand to… acknowledge the importance and urgent need to address climate change for the benefit of current and future generations … We believe that New Zealand has much at stake and much to gain by adopting strong leadership on climate change and ambitious emission reduction targets at the UNCOP meeting in Paris in December. (LGNZ 2015, p1)
The declaration’s ‘Guiding Principles’ section states that: ‘These principles are based on established legal1 and moral obligations placed on Government when considering the current and future social, economic and environmental well-being of the communities they represent.’ (LGNZ 2015, p2). The footnote in the aforementioned quote states that: ‘These Guiding Principles are established within the… Principles of Fundamental Justice and Human Rights.’ (LGNZ 2015, p2).
Recent advocate of the declaration Ali Timms, Chairman of Environment Southland regional council, was quoted as saying that: ‘[the declaration] was initially proposed by metro councils, but support was now sought from mayors and chairs from throughout the country. … [climate change] was something local government should be united on and showing leadership,’ (Nicoll 2015).
Up until the 20th of October 2015 17 local leaders from various NZ local councils had signed the declaration, with other councils since then having also agreed to sign the declaration (LGNZ 2015; Nicoll 2015; Stuff 2015). LGNZ explains that the opportunity for other local government leaders to sign the declaration will be an ongoing process up until the commencement of the Paris COP, where it will be then presented (LGNZ 2015; Nicoll 2015).
As part of the update on the 2014 NZ report, it is noted that the Dunedin City Council confirmed its decision to divest itself of fossil fuel extraction investments as part of an ethical investment policy (Elder 2015).
10. Has your national government taken any position on or otherwise encouraged individuals, businesses, organizations, subnational governments, or other entities that they have an ethical duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
The NZ Government has not stated or encouraged individuals, businesses, organizations, subnational governments, or other entities that they have an ethical duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
11. What recommendations would you make to get the nation or civil society in the country to take ethics and justice issues seriously in climate change policy formulation?
As explained earlier, the current NZ government is acting highly unethically and unjustly, and contributing strongly to the intensifying formidable risks to vulnerable people and of failing to meet the objective of the UNFCCC. This conclusion is regrettable given the apparent desire for an ideal of global sustainability between countries, including NZ, and the fundamental importance of ethics to achieve this ideal (Hadley 2015).
To reiterate the 2014 NZ report’s recommendations, the NZ government and wider society, including higher education, NZ NGOs and the NZ media, must be made aware of the nation’s narrowly self-interested, highly unethical and unjust approach to climate change policy and the serious implications of not addressing the associated ‘operational conclusions of sustainable development’.
To further reiterate the previous NZ report, the nation and civil society need to understand the enormous practical significance for NZ climate change and associated sustainability policies of seeing climate change as an ethical problem. The author believes there needs to be wider recognition and discussion of the significant consensus around the broad overarching operational conclusions of sustainable development, in order to achieve the apparent desired ideal of global sustainability (Hadley 2015). The significant consensus on the broad operational conclusions of sustainable development involves global individual welfare being upheld and humanity keeping within planetary boundaries, as well as comparatively extremely limited macroeconomic formulations/broad modes of operation for humanity; bearing in mind the absence of a comparable, environmentally safe energy source to fossil fuel (Hadley 2015).
Given the intensifying formidable risks to vulnerable people and of failing to meet the objective of the UNFCCC, the NZ government should:
[advocate] to the international community to achieve, and amongst their people to support, the objective of the UNFCCC, whilst advocating at the national and international levels for a science informed global ethic on [sustainable development]; and . . . [simultaneously formulate] whole-of-Government strategies to help provide solutions, and prepare for, a future associated global socio-economic transformation in the Anthropocene. (Hadley 2015, p488).
Advocacy refers to an act of support, or ethical leadership, in response to the unresolved global multilateral process on this unprecedented problem; where leadership is a necessary duty of Annex 1 developed countries (United Nations 1992, Art 3).
It is also recommended that the NZ government urgently reconsiders/makes explicit its position on NZ’s per capita emissions responsibility. One reason for this particular recommendation is that it could lead to the necessary advocacy that this report and the previous report recommends.
Key NZ public recommendations from the INDC consultation process that haven’t been mentioned in this report yet, include: a large majority of stakeholders highlighting the need for a target to be underpinned by a domestic plan, and frequent requests for cross party consensus (MfE 2015).
For Developed Nations.
12. For developed nations, identify the most recent national commitment, if any, the nation has made on funding adaptation or losses and damages in vulnerable countries?
NZ’s Sixth National Communication to the UNFCCC outlines the financial and technological support New Zealand has provided to developing countries for climate change actions from 2009 to 2012. The report communicates the following financial support:
New Zealand’s total annual contribution to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), including the proportion that is likely to be spent on climate change projects – total funding of NZ$10.68 million… contributions to a range of multilateral organisations and programmes, including special funds under the UNFCCC, and scientific, technological and training institutions in the Pacific region – total funding of approximately NZ$228 million… funding for specific projects administered through the Ministry for the Environment… support for bilateral climate change-related assistance managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the New Zealand Aid Programme and elsewhere – total funding of approximately NZ$70 million (MfE 2013, p156)
The next update for funding for mitigation and adaptation in overseas countries is set to be released in New Zealand’s second biennial report, due for release by the 1st of January 2016.
13. For developed nations,, did your nation acknowledge any ethical or justice based responsibility for making a commitment on funding adaptation or losses and damages in vulnerable countries?
The author is not aware of any acknowledgment by the NZ government of any ethical or justice based responsibility for making a commitment on funding adaptation or losses and damages in vulnerable countries.
NZ Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse recently stated in relation to the displacement of people by climate change that: ‘I think New Zealand does an extraordinary amount in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change on sea level, in particular in the Pacific Island nations’ (NZ Government 2015). Michael Woodhouse’s statement comes on the back of criticism towards NZ at the 2015 Pacific Islands Forum on the strength of its climate change policy, where small island states were pushing for a unified statement from the forum on global temperature increase of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (Vaka’uta 2015).
14. Have NGOs or the media in your nations identified or discussed the potential obligations of high-emitting nations to fund adaptation or losses and damages in poor vulnerable nations?
The author is aware of at least a couple of mainstream media articles which cover NGOs identifying and discussing the obligations of NZ as a high emitting nation to fund adaptation or losses and damages in poor vulnerable countries (Daud 2015; Le Mesurier 2015).
In the first article, related to climate refugees, Greenpeace explains that it believes NZ has a responsibility to allow those affected by climate change to settle in New Zealand (Daud 2015). Greenpeace states that:
New Zealand is part of the problem. We are the polluters. We’re creating this devastation of Pacific communities. Therefore we have the moral duty to accommodate those we’re displacing. … There have been attempts at the United Nations level to have countries like New Zealand be liable for creating this problem. They should have to pay compensation and be forced to help countries adapt and take refugees which is part of it. (Daud 2015)
The second article entitled ‘New Zealand should take lead on climate change in the Pacific’ is written by the executive director of Oxfam New Zealand, Rachael Le Mesurier (2015). Le Mesurier states that:
New Zealand has dual responsibilities to the Pacific. Firstly, as a country that is wealthier than our island neighbours and which has become so partly by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for a long time, we must do our fair share to cut pollution. Pacific islanders have contributed very little to global warming, yet so far have been hit the hardest by it. Secondly, we have a duty to provide financial assistance to help poorer countries, including in the Pacific, to both adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change (2015)
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The First Report
The first report on New Zealand was included in new book that has been published by the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Ethics Specialist Group which also contains project reports on the United States, Canada, Netherlands, Russia, China, South Africa, South Korea, Kenya, Italy, Japan, Bolivia, Thailand, and Uganda. The book is free and downloadable at http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/iucn_eplp_86_advanced_copy.pdf
The book is:
Ethics and Climate Change
A Study of National Commitments
Electronic copies are free for download here.