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NZ’s loss and damage, loss of face?

Wednesday 16 Nov 22 10:30am

Less than a week after the government boasted of being one of just three countries in the world to commit to loss and damage funding, New Zealand has been awarded the ‘fossil of the day award’ for opposing an agreement at COP27 to establish a loss and damage finance facility.

The Climate Action Network - a coalition of 1200 NGOs in 120 countries - said New Zealand had started off looking like a true leader at COP27 with the announcement of $20 million for loss and damage last week, but its decision to oppose the setting up of a finance facility was “a shameful about-face exposing their true allegiances – with other laggard-rich nations.”


Oxfam Aotearoa climate justice spokesperson Nick Henry said the government was blocking urgently needed action on loss and damage.


“It’s not what we would expect from a government that says it’s at the leading edge of loss and damage.”


But foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta gave a hint that New Zealand could be lukewarm towards proposals for an international loss and damage fund when she announced Aotearoa’s $20 million loss and damage commitment last week.


“COP27 is likely to discuss a centralised fund for international commitments for loss and damage. While New Zealand is not opposed to this, we also support a wide range of funding arrangements to make best use of our contribution. We will work with our partners, in particular Pacific governments, to support areas they identify as priorities,” she said.


However, the government’s announcement was widely seen as an endorsement of calls by the south for loss and damage to be adopted by rich nations part of their response to climate change.


Professor Bronwyn Hayward tweeted: “It might not be a lot of money but this signals to the Pacific NZ has their back now China and the USA what will you do about it?”





Hayward said she stands by the comment. “It was - and remains - a really significant step to commit finding rather than just words - even small funding has to then go somewhere which helps force the issue of setting up a mechanism for delivering this which can’t be put off endlessly.


“I would add - and I know this will be an unpopular comment- that the fossil award is a bit of a cheap shot because very few nations have committed funding even a small amount of real funding to force this issue into a concrete action plan… the negotiation was always going to be hard.


“The more immediate concern I have is that we are crashing through the 1.5 barrier at this meeting and the liability issues will be even more critical - let alone liveability will be even more critical - it’s incredibly frustrating that we go one step forward two steps back on all these issues but given this COP is in disarray to be honest this is all a struggle.


“Good on Oxfam for highlighting the issue but getting liability mechanisms that are transparent and workable is also critical.”


Vanuatu-based Oxfam Pacific project coordinator George Koran said New Zealand’s stance at COP27 sent a mixed message.


The New Zealand Government say they understand the urgent need for loss and damage funds, and yet, we are not seeing any real action. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul – we need new and additional funding from our neighbours to fight this crisis.”


In its submission on loss and damage at COP27 the government said a lack of shared understanding of what a global fund would mean, meant it couldn’t support it at this stage.


“Establishing a fund without certainty around what that means would require high levels of confidence that we have a shared understanding of what we are working on, and how. Listening to the interventions, it doesn’t seem we have this.”


“NZ has said previously we think this is urgent. We committed funding this week to underscore that point.  But we also think we need to get this right.”  


“At this COP we have an opportunity to move toward the shared understanding we need by agreeing on a few principles that ensure a fund is as useful as possible.” 


Not the first time NZ's been declared a fossil


PHOTo: James St John: Flickr


Yesterday’s award comes almost exactly a year after CAN gave New Zealand the fossil of the day award for turning up at COP26 in Glasgow without a revised Nationally Determined Contribution.


It could well be a case of déjà vu in coming days with New Zealand once again turning up to a COP without a revised NDC.


Climate change minister James Shaw has said he’s waiting for a decision in a court case brought by Lawyers for Climate Action NZ that could impact on government’s decision.


LCANZ responded to Shaw’s comment by saying there was nothing stopping the government from announcing more ambitious targets in line with the science.


LCANZ argues that the Climate Change Commission made a mathematical error meaning NZ’s 2030 target fails to meet its commitment to keeping warming below 1.5 degrees.


More slicing and dicing of climate fund


Meanwhile, climate change minister James Shaw announced a $15 million contribution to the Adaptation Fund at COP27.


The five-fold increase in New Zealand’s contribution to the fund will come out of New Zealand $1.3 billion climate package announced last year.


The $20 million loss and damage funding comes out of the same pot.


“Aotearoa New Zealand is committed to supporting those countries and communities that have the fewest resources to respond and to recover from the impacts of the climate crisis. That is why at least half of this Government’s NZ$1.3 billion climate finance package will be targeted at projects that support climate resilience, especially in the Pacific," Shaw said


“Most of our support is allocated by working directly with countries. Working in this way means we can prioritise support where it is needed most in the Pacific. What I am announcing today will complement this targeted work by boosting a global fund dedicated to helping countries adapt to the impact of the climate crisis.


“Working in tandem with targeted support for the Pacific, our contribution to the Adaptation Fund will play an important role in scaling up global support for countries to adapt to the impact of the climate crisis,” Shaw said.

Story copyright © Carbon News 2022
Related Topics: United Nations


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