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Nick Smith Defends NZ Target After IPCC Criticism

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Nick Smith
Nick Smith

Wellington, Aug 20 NZPA - Climate Change Minister Nick Smith is rejecting criticism by a top United Nations climate scientist that the Government's emissions reduction target is disappointing, inadequate and unambitious.

The Government last week set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of between 10 percent and 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

In Parliament today, Labour MPs quoted Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri as saying in The Press newspaper that he had expected the Government would make a stronger commitment.

"We clearly need a much greater level of ambition," Dr Pachauri said.

In other remarks he talked about the need for green growth which Labour's Moana Mackey picked up on.

"Why does the Government continue to discourage the development of low carbon sectors in the economy by viewing climate change policy as a trade off between the environment and the economy -- a position the head of the IPCC has labelled as a "fallacy".

Dr Smith: "With due respect, I disagree. Do I think it's possible to reduce emissions significantly without cost? And the frank answer, is I do not."

Green Party MP Jeanette Fitzsimons asked how the Government could claim it received a uniformly positive international response to its target given the remarks.

Dr Smith said many countries supported the Government's target range.

Labour climate change spokesman Charles Chauvel issued a statement calling for more analyses to develop a target that "adequately recognises the threat climate change poses to New Zealand and the rest of the world".

A sector by sector analysis of possible pollution reductions should be done and that target be based on the results, he said.

Greenpeace also issued a statement quoting the UN scientist.

"The Government has tried to spin its target as ambitious but the reality is that New Zealand's current target makes us a laggard on the world stage," campaigner Simon Boxer said.

The lobby group want a target of 40 percent by 2020 but the Government has ruled it out, saying it would close down a significant chunk of the economy.

At the other extreme of the argument, ACT leader Rodney Hide criticised the target's potential impact on the economy and said the Government should instead commit to a target of 15 percent above 1990 levels.

Dr Smith said that would not be credible and would have been inconsistent with National policy.

He said costs would be similar those Australia faced.

"The reason I recommended a target range very similar to Australia's in economic cost terms is I think it's fair, with the degree of integration between New Zealand and Australia's economies, that we take a similar burden on this important issue."

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