Ardern announces in New York an increase in NZ’s Pacific climate commitment

As a keynote speaker in New York at the launch of Climate Week NYC, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced an  increase in New Zealand’s global climate finance commitment “to $300 million over four years”.

When you read through the press release it is clarified as “a significant increase on our existing commitment of $200m in the four years to 2019” – so an increase of $100m over four years, or $25m per year, from an already announced budget.

Beehive: New Zealand increases climate finance commitment to Pacific

The Prime Minister is in New York attending the United Nations Leaders Week and action on climate change is high on her agenda.

The increased investment is being made from New Zealand’s Overseas Development Assistance, which was increased by nearly 30% ($NZ714 million) in Budget 2018 to support the Pacific Reset.

“This funding allocation will focus on practical action that will help Pacific countries adapt to climate change and build resilience. For example, providing support for coastal adaptation in Tokelau to reduce the risks of coastal inundation;  and continuing our efforts to strengthen water security across the Pacific, building on current initiatives such as those in Kiribati where we are working to provide community rainwater harvesting systems and are investing in desalination,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“New Zealand is fully committed to the Paris Agreement and to taking urgent action to support our transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy.

“New Zealand is committing to providing at least $300m over four years in climate-related development assistance, with most of this going to the Pacific.

“We have a responsibility of care for the environment in which we live, but the challenge of climate change requires us to look beyond our domestic borders, and in New Zealand’s case towards the Pacific.

“The focus of this financial support is on creating new areas of growth and opportunity for Pacific communities.  We want to support our Pacific neighbours to make the transition to a low carbon economy without hurting their existing economic base.

“Climate change is a priority area for New Zealand’s Pacific Reset announced by Foreign Minister Peters in February. This commitment of $300m over four years is a significant increase on our existing commitment of $200m in the four years to 2019.

“We recognise our neighbours in the Pacific region are uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This week I will be making a number of representations alongside our Pacific neighbours to ensure the world is aware of the impact of climate change in our region and the cost of inaction.

“This funding will complement our ongoing support to help developing countries in the Pacific and beyond meet their emissions targets through renewable energy and agriculture initiatives,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Ardern’s speech to the opening ceremony of Climate Week NYC:


Kaitiakitanga: Protecting our planet

President Moïse; Secretary Espinosa; Governor Brown

I’d like to begin with a word often used in New Zealand, that you may not – until now – have ever had the opportunity to hear: kaitiakitanga.

It’s Te Reo Māori, a word in the language of indigenous New Zealanders, and in my mind, it captures the sentiment of why we are here.

It means ‘guardianship’. But not just guardianship, but the responsibility of care for the environment in which we live, and the idea that we have a duty of care that eventually hands to the next generation, and the one after.

We all hold this responsibility in our own nations, but the challenge of climate change requires us to look beyond the domestic. Our duty of care is as global as the challenge of climate change.

In the Pacific, we feel that acutely as do countries like Bangladesh where land is literally being lost, and fresh water is being inundated with salt water due to climate change.

There is no doubt that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our generation.

Whether there will be enough food and freshwater.  Whether our towns and cities will be free from inundation from rising seas or extreme rainfalls and devastating storms.  Whether the biodiversity that lends our planet its richness and its resilience will survive.  Whether the growth and economic development that provided an incredible path to lift people out of poverty will be stunted by the widespread, systemic impacts of climate change.

There is no country, no region that does not already feel the impacts of climate change.  For New Zealand’s neighbours in the Pacific, who are already losing their soil and freshwater resources to salt from the ocean, these are not hypothetical questions.  They are immediate questions of survival.

Although New Zealand accounts for a tiny percentage of global emissions – only 0.16 percent – we recognise the importance of doing our part.

But more importantly we recognise that global challenges require everyone’s attention and action. And we all have responsibility to care for the earth in the face of climate change.

This is not the time to apportion responsibility, this is the time to work across borders and to do everything we can by working together.

We are working internationally and want to do more to share research and ideas, build opportunities together with other nations.

New Zealand is fully committed to the Paris Agreement and we are taking urgent action to transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy.  Our focus is on doing this in a way that creates new areas of growth and opportunity for our communities.

At home, my Minister for Climate Change is this week preparing a Zero Carbon Bill to legislate an ambitious goal that would be fully aligned with the Paris Agreement’s objective for the world to become carbon neutral in the second half of this century. We have already put in place some of the measures to get us there.

We are reviewing New Zealand’s emission trading scheme, to ensure it helps us deliver a net zero-emissions future.

We have a target of planting 1 billion trees over the next decade.

And we are no longer issuing permits for offshore oil and gas exploration.

It has been encouraging to see the groundswell of support for ambitious climate action in New Zealand.  60 CEOs representing half of all New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have committed to action. Our largest dairy company and major agricultural producers have declared themselves up for the challenge.

Local governments have long-term plans not only to adapt to climate change but to drive deep emissions reductions.  Communities and families are taking up the cause.  New Zealanders understand that it is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.

The conversation has shifted dramatically. It was only 10 years ago that I was asked about climate change in a town hall election meeting. When I spoke passionately about our need to respond to this challenge, I was met with a boo that moved across the entire audience.

Now, the debate is no longer whether climate change is a threat, but how we can use our policies, actions and international linkages to drive the move to a low-emissions and inclusive society.  We know that the scale of this transformation is huge, and we are determined to leave no-one behind.  It will be a ‘just transition’ that works with people who might be affected, and turns this challenge into an opportunity.

In New Zealand’s home region of the Pacific we will work with others to support stronger and more resilient infrastructure, strengthened disaster preparedness, and low-carbon economic growth through both our funding commitments and by bringing good ideas to the table.

To support developing countries respond to the impacts of climate change, New Zealand will spend at least $300 million in climate-related development assistance over the next 4 years, with the majority of this to be spent in the Pacific.

We recognise that climate change poses a security threat to vulnerable nations, including our Pacific neighbours.

We understand that climate change brings new challenges to international legal frameworks.

As climate change causes sea-levels to rise, coastal states face the risk of shrinking maritime zones as their baselines move inward.

New Zealand firmly believes that coastal states’ baselines and maritime boundaries should not have to change because of human-induced sea level rise.

We are beginning work on a strategy to achieve the objective of preserving the current balance of rights and obligations under UNCLOS. Our goal is to find a way, as quickly as possible, to provide certainty to vulnerable coastal states that they will not lose access to their marine resources and current entitlements. We seek your support as we work to ensure that these states maintain their rights over their maritime zones in the face of sea-level rise.

You are all here today because you understand the need for global action to solve this global problem.  My government is committed to leadership both at home and abroad.

On the international stage we are pushing for the reform of fossil fuel subsidies; the $460 billion spent each year that works against climate ambition and could be better spent on building resilient societies.

We are leading research and collaboration on climate change and agriculture, including with many of you here today in the Global Research Alliance.  At COP24 we hope to see many of you at a New Zealand-led event on sustainable agriculture and climate change.  We’re aiming to encourage action to capture the ‘triple win’ – increasing agricultural productivity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthening resilience to climate change impacts.

We are undertaking research in Antarctica to better understand the crucial role it plays in global systems, and the far reaching effects environmental change in Antarctica will have.

We, with the Marshall Islands, Sweden and France are building a Towards Carbon Neutrality Coalition. The 16 countries and 32 cities in the Coalition are developing long-term strategies for deep cuts of emissions in line with the long-term temperature limit goals we all agreed to in the Paris Agreement.

This week President Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands and I are hosting the first high-level meeting of the Coalition.  We’re going to launch the Coalition’s new Plan of Action and announce new members.

We are proud to join many of you in ambitious initiatives like the High Ambition Coalition, Powering Past Coal and the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund Working Group.

And in the UNFCCC we are strong supporters of the Global Climate Action Agenda, with a special focus on agriculture.

Underpinning all of this action is the Paris Agreement and the critical decisions that will be made in Katowice this December. The rules that are agreed must be robust and credible, so that the Paris Agreement is effective and enduring.  The world can only reach the Paris goals if we have clarity and confidence about each other’s commitments and action.

As I have said to my fellow New Zealanders, I refuse to accept that the challenge of climate change is too hard to solve.  So, I join you today necessarily hopeful.  Hopeful that, if we genuinely commit to finding solutions together, no issue is truly unsolvable.

And hopeful that we, the 193 members states of the United Nations, can work towards solutions that deliver for our people.  Peace.  Dignity.  A good quality of life.  A resilient and sustainable future, and fulfilling the responsibility that is kaitiakitanga.

Ardern’s Pacific ‘reset’ tour

A month ago Jacinda Ardern went on a tour of Samoa, Niue, Tonga and Rarotonga in the nearby South Pacific, in what was promoted as ‘a reset’ with Pacific island relations.

Newsroom previewed the tour: Ardern leads ‘Pacific Reset’ tour

A “Pacific reset” for New Zealand’s foreign policy is on the way, with Jacinda Ardern leading a delegation around the Pacific this week to hear about the big issues facing the countries.

Ardern’s first foreign policy speech last week focused more on the Pacific than any other part of the world, as she spoke of New Zealand’s long and well-established ties, as well as its duty to act on the threat of climate change in the region.

“We can do better, and we will.”

It was followed up by Peters’ pledge for a “Pacific reset” in a major speech of his own in Sydney.

He outlined the Government’s view of a shared Pacific destiny, speaking of increased aid and “back to basics diplomacy”.

That diplomacy starts this week, with Ardern, Peters and a bevy of ministers and MPs heading around Samoa, Tonga, Niue and the Cook Islands for the annual Pacific mission.

This push for greater engagement appears to come from a genuine passion for the Pacific from the Government, and what it sees as an opportunity to improve on its predecessor’s performance.

veutoviper has posted a useful summary of this tour at The Standard, as reported by Stuff’s Henry Cooke. This illustrates good diplomacy and foreign relations, and also good reporting.


Here are links to all ten of the articles Henry Cooke did as he accompanied the five day Parliamentary Mission to the Pacific which were published progressively by Stuff on their website over that timeframe. In sequence, these ten articles by Henry Cooke were:

1. A preliminary scene-setting one written before the visit started, detailing the bigger picture issues relevant to the relationships etc between NZ and the Pacific islands, and anticipated achievements from the trip:

2. An article specifically on climate change and its effects on Samoa, speeches given by our PM and Climate Change Minister James Shaw to an audience of Samoan MPs and officials at a climate change luncheon, and their visits to local spots showing the effects of climate change:

3. Another article specifically on the donations to Samoa announced by the PM of $3 million more in disaster recovery aid and $6.5m in development funds for small businesses run by women and young people:

4. A final article on Samoa on the hospitality and celebrations that took place; climate change; and the aid announcements:

5. and 6. Two articles on the one day visit to Niue – One on the aid assistance announced, which included $5m for another solar panels farm to help Niue reach their goal of 80% renewable energy by 2025; and the second a lighter one focusing in part on the PM’s reunion with her family in Niue:

7. One article on Tonga covering aid including emergency relief for the cyclone Gita damage and the visit itself, which included the delegation seeing this damage first hand:

8. and 9. Two articles on the visit to the Cook Islands – One specifically on the biggest announcement of the whole trip on the relaxation of the rules for the payment of NZ Superannuation to Niueans, Cook Islanders and Tokelauans, and the other on the very colourful and friendly visit itself, but which also includes further discussion on the relaxed NZ Super rules:

10. And finally, Henry Cooke’s wrap up article summarizing what was achieved by the visit itself, and also looking at the bigger, longer term issues:

Cooke’s summary:

As Ardern was quick to point out in her final media stand-up of the trip, this was still in many ways a listening and promising tour, not a delivery one, other than with the pension changes. As with many things in this Government, the real record will be in the delivery.

So how will that delivery look? A lot more investment instead of aid, as the leaders kept talking about. A managed transition out of developed nation status for the Cook Islands. A proper change in climate change policy.

Peters also motioned towards the biosecurity problems that stop us importing much fruit from these islands, which he said was put in the “too hard basket” and needs to be fixed. The metaphor is apt: plenty of the problems the Pacific faces have been chucked into the too-hard basket. For this reset to work the whole thing is going to have to be emptied out.

 

 

Ardern’s positive ‘Pacific reset’ tour

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, along with Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters, have been on a tour of Pacific Islands this week. This is an annual tour, but this year Ardern says the aim is ‘a Pacific reset’.

As well as good PR for Ardern with a daily dose of ‘photo opportunities’, this looks like positive engagement with New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours.

RNZ (Monday):  PM’s Pacific tour begins ‘Pacific reset’

The government has kicked off what it calls the “Pacific reset”, with Jacinda Ardern beginning her first trip to the region as Prime Minister.

It comes after Foreign Minister Winston Peters promised to boost aid and embark on a new strategy with New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours.

Mr Peters will accompany Ms Ardern for the week-long trip, which will stop in Samoa, Niue, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

It will also give the Prime Minister a chance to meet the heads of the countries one-on-one before the Pacific Islands Forum later in the year.

This year’s annual Pacific Mission will focus on recovery and resilience, especially for Tonga, which was badly hit by Cyclone Gita last month.

The Council for International Development welcomed the so-called Pacific reset.

Director of the Council for International Development, Josie Pagani, said the move “signals a massive boost of energy for our work in the Pacific”.

“Improved conditions mean greater independence for the Pacific, and that’s the ultimate goal of any aid budget.”

Last year New Zealand committed over $4 million to solar panels in Niue, greatly increasing its renewable energy generation.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who will also be on the trip, said New Zealand would continue to invest in green initiatives like that.

“[Winston Peters] is taking the lead on the Pacific strategy, but climate change is a central part of that strategy that is emerging,” Mr Shaw said.

“I don’t want to say we did everything wrong [because] we have a pretty good track record, but we want to build on that, and to broaden it and deepen it.”

A small business delegation will also be on the Pacific Mission trip as well as other Ministers including Carmel Sepuloni, Aupito William Sio, Fletcher Tabuteau, and National MPs Gerry Brownlee and Alfred Ngaro.

It is normal for a cross-party delegation to do the tour.

RNZ (Friday): PM’s breakneck tour a hit with islands

Jacinda Ardern has completed a whirlwind trip of the Pacific Islands, stopping in Samoa, Niue, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

It was her first trip as Prime Minister, where she took the chance to meet with all the heads of the countries.

The tone for the Pacific Mission was set by foreign minister Winston Peter’s speech last week, when he said a “Pacific reset” was needed.

Jacinda Ardern referred to this ‘reset’ several times on the trip and said it was about shifting from a donor-aid relationship to a partnership.

Money was given to Samoa and Tonga for cyclone recovery, more help is on its way for Niue’s renewable energy projects, and there’s been a shift in pension rules for Niueans and Cook Islanders.

But in the words of Mr Peters, these islands are now “attracting an increasing number of external actors and interests”.

That could mean many more trips of the like to ensure New Zealand keeps up its presence in the Pacific Islands.

Peter Dunne Speaks:

Every year the Prime Minister leads a delegation of senior politicians from all parties and business leaders on a Pacific Islands tour. This week’s Prime Ministerial visit to Samoa, Niue, Tonga and the Cook Islands is the 2018 version. Inevitably, there will be those who will dismiss such tours as little more than a junket, a description which is unfair.

Having taken part in a number of them over the years, I can confirm that they are a valuable way of strengthening our relationships with the various Pacific Island states, as well as creating mutual business and trade opportunities.

However, this year’s visits have the potential to break the mould, especially if the Government’s rhetoric of the “Pacific Reset” is to be believed.  Such a reset is certainly overdue.

The goodwill towards New Zealand, and the close bonds of connection are strong, right across the Pacific. For its part, New Zealand needs to be seen to be working closely with its Pacific partners to achieve mutual social and economic progress. New Zealand’s response to the threat climate change poses to low-lying islands and their peoples will be an early test. But, so far, the first signs from this week’s visit are that the Pacific Reset is going to be positive all round.

Newsroom (Friday): Pacific trip provides shape of challenges to come

A trip to the Pacific must be a political propagandist’s dream.

The colourful clothing, beautiful backdrops and warmth of the locals meant Jacinda Ardern’s five-day visit was almost guaranteed to be a success before she landed.

That is not to do her a disservice: Ardern made the most of her stay, greeting as many locals as she could, speaking in the native language where possible and offering both aid and assurances about the region’s importance to New Zealand.

(As a side note, those carping about a waste of taxpayer money should note both John Key and Bill English made regular trips to the Pacific and partook in their fair share of photo opportunities.)

Ardern’s deputy and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the region is his top priority, and laid out plans for more political engagement, greater funding and a closer relationship during a “Pacific reset” speech.

Speaking to media on the final day of her visit, Ardern expressed contentment with what she and her ministers had achieved.

“I’d rate this mission highly, off the back of the fact that so many of the leaders have remarked on the repositioning that this government has focused on in the Pacific that was set out by the Minister of Foreign Affairs which says, ‘Look, actually we do a lot of work across the globe but actually our relationships here in the Pacific are key, they’re increasingly important, we need to move to a partnership’, and that has been incredibly well received wherever we’ve gone.”

Peters was even more effusive: “The Prime Minister’s being extremely modest about this trip because she’s leading it, but I’ve been on a lot of Pacific trips, this has been the most successful by a long long way.”

Talk of a partnership of equals has been well received, with good reason: as Ardern pointed out, many of the Pacific nations are longstanding democracies with sophisticated leaders, some approaching developed nation status.

Writing for the Samoa Planet, Lani Wendt Young said Ardern’s remarks about the Pacific “joining” New Zealand in this generation’s nuclear-free moment were “a tad bit condescending, considering how long Pacific Island nations and advocacy groups have been championing this issue on the world stage and in the region”.

It’s always going to be difficult to get the right balance, but Ardern should learn from this – as one of a number of leaders in the region she is not going to create a revolution on her own.

The warmth of the Pacific welcome will stay with Ardern for some time, but genuine progress may prove a higher hurdle.

It always will be, but Ardern has got off to a promising start in the Pacific.