Our good old PM has gone and done it again: Put New Zealand in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The speech he delivered at the launch of the Paris climate change conference yesterday was so outrageous it secured New Zealand the very first ‘Fossil of the Day Award’, gifted by the international coalition of environmental NGOs, Climate Action Network (CAN).
News of the award quickly spread to media around the world, no doubt creating many a chuckle at our expense.
In a nutshell, Key decided it would be a top idea to use his opening speech at the talks to call on countries to take more responsibility and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.
Sounds alright… aside from the minor issue that at the same time as Key and his cronies are demanding this of other countries, they are actually increasing said subsidies here in New Zealand.
It’s fundamentally hypocritical, not to mention a bit stupid looking.
Earlier in the day, Key had gone as far as to present a communique by ‘Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform’, of which the New Zealand Government is a founding member, championing three overriding principles for fossil fuel subsidy reform: Transparency, ambition and safeguarding the poorest.
But here on our home turf, and we fail those principles on all accounts. Not only have we been subsidising the oil industry to the tune of $46 million a year, but National is now refusing to reveal how big these tax breaks and subsidies will be in future.
Just last week, we highlighted the case of a government-owned, taxpayer funded climate and ocean research boat, which paradoxically had been searching for oil on behalf of petroleum giant Chevron.
In response, ‘Climb It’ activists scaled the gantry of the boat, the Tangaroa, and secured themselves there for more than 10 hours.
This is a science ship which should be doing vital environmental work, but has been refitted at a taxpayer cost of $24 million so it can also do oil and gas exploration – obviously there’s something wrong with this picture.
And now that the Paris climate change conference has kicked off, contradictions such as these are being highlighted on the world stage.
French President François Hollande set the tone yesterday with an opening speech that recognised the fact that climate action is now a matter of survival for many countries.
The only way for low-lying Pacific Islands to survive, he says, is if the world were powered entirely by renewable energy by the middle of this century.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Government is doing its damndest to convince the rest of the attendees at the conference that anything we agree on should not be legally binding.
For the world’s sake, let’s hope they don’t.