Saturday, December 4

Government promises $ 1.3 billion for countries affected by climate change

The government is quadrupling its funding for international climate change aid to $ 1.3 billion over four years.

Damage caused by Cyclone Gita in American Samoa.

Investing in solar capacity around the Pacific will maintain electricity supply when other energy sources are destroyed by cyclones and other weather-related events.
Photo: Twiiter / Aumua Amata

The announcement was made ahead of the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow later this month.

At least half of the funds will go to the Pacific.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said Morning report the money would support a number of projects, with a particular focus on helping Pacific island nations adapt to the effects of climate change.

Some of the projects would be an expansion of the work New Zealand was already helping its Pacific neighbors with, Shaw said.

“We have invested quite a bit in solar capacity around the Pacific; that helps to reduce the greenhouse gases of the islands, but in particular it helps with resilience in terms of cyclones, etc., because what happens when there is a major event like this? In other words, their diesel supplies are interrupted, so having electricity generated, stored and used on site is very important in terms of ensuring the ability of their power grids to function. “

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the investment would help enable clean energy projects in developing countries, ensure that crops are drought resistant and that communities are protected from rising sea levels and storm surges.

He said the climate change clock was ticking, so it was important for New Zealand to increase its contribution to align it with other countries.

Shaw said the funding in today’s announcement was a grant and did not include soft loans to Pacific nations, which some commentators have argued engendering economic dependence.

“The way we run our program is that it is actually run by the islands themselves, so we really respond to the type of requests that they make.

The issue of climate change and its effects was the main concern raised to him and other ministers every time they spoke with the leaders of the Pacific islands, Shaw said.

“Every time any of our ministers or any part of our government has some form of dialogue with any of the Pacific islands, the number one issue they speak to us about is climate change, the need to reduce our own emissions to stop climate change”. change to happen in the first place, and also the need for that support to allow them to transition. “

New Zealand’s action on climate change has been “woefully inadequate” for the past 30 years, Shaw said.

“What that has left us now is just a few years to dramatically reduce the greenhouse gases that we release into the atmosphere. That is a function of the type of oscillation that has occurred for three decades; it is not a very comfortable position for us. participate, but that does not mean we are not up to the challenge. “

Shaw did not believe that New Zealand was one of the countries Queen Elizabeth was referring to when she was recently heard expressing her irritation at those who “speak but don’t” regarding climate change action.

“If you look at what we’ve done over the course of the last four years, in addition to passing the Zero Carbon Act unanimously and establishing the Climate Change Commission, we’ve also done things like introducing incentives for low-cost vehicles. emission, we have finished offshore oil and gas exploration, we will be the first country in the world to put a price on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, and so on … yet we are, as I said, too late to begin with and the effects of those policies have yet to be felt. “

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