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English must give strong message to US Secretary of State on climate change

 

Prime Minister Bill English must voice New Zealand’s concerns in the strongest possible terms when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Wellington next week following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. 

“This decision is a huge setback for the international efforts to turn back global warming. After years of negotiation, the Paris Accord marked a more hopeful approach to the whole issue of climate change with 195 nations signing up.

 

“Bill English must take a strong stand next week and ensure Rex Tillerson knows the damage that’s been caused to the international campaign by the USA’s withdrawal. 

“We can’t now let the USA water down the Paris Accord. Mr Tillerson must be reminded that the world can only combat climate change together and that New Zealand stands shoulder-to-shoulder with other nations which have embraced the challenge.

 “Mr Tillerson is coming to a nation that’s vulnerable to sea level rise, drought, extreme weather events and all the other impacts of climate change. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has already said that more than 9,000 New Zealand homes are sited less than 50 centimetres above the spring high tide line. 

“We are also conscious of the need for our Pacific nations for immediate action on climate change. 

“Labour has argued that the Government should do more to protect New Zealand. What we don’t want now is National using Trump’s decision to go soft on our own commitments. 

“Labour wants a fresh approach with a Climate Commission and carbon budgeting. We need a clear plan of action. 

“The Government must now stand behind the rest of the world on the Paris Accord and not weaken in the face of this alarming move by the USA,” says Andrew Little.