Marama Davidson - Question to Minister for Climate Change Issues

Does she agree that New Zealand has a special responsibility to provide leadership on climate change in support of our Pacific Island neighbours, whose very existence is threatened by it and who have done almost nothing to cause the problem?



Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Climate Change Issues): I certainly agree that New Zealand needs to play our part in the global effort to reduce climate change. I think the leadership depends on context within that. I think we have a very special relationship with the Pacific Islands. It is why we provide so much aid there. It is why we have committed more than $200 million towards contributing to helping our Pacific cousins.

Marama Davidson: Will the Government, then, show real leadership to support small Pacific Island nations by following many Pacific leaders in condemning President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I think we have made it very clear that we are disappointed with the decision of President Trump. I think there are more important things that we can do for the Pacific Islands at the moment, and that is in our aid programme. It is in things like the borrow pits and filling them in, in Tuvalu. It is in things like the contribution that we are making in Kiribati, as far as getting adaptation for them so that people can live better lives. I think that makes more of a difference than words of condemnation.

Marama Davidson: When the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, himself is saying: "I think this is a very destructive, obstructive statement from a leader of perhaps the biggest polluter on earth …" and the president of the Assembly of French Polynesia, Marcel Tuihani, is going as far as saying: "We regret that the President of the United States has no more consideration for the peoples of Pacific Islands states …", why does the Government refuse to show any leadership by condemning Trump's decision?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I think I have made it pretty clear that we are more interested in the actions that we take, and I am proud of them. Those island States are welcome to make whatever comments they like. It is called democracy. If those are the comments that they want to make on what President Trump has said, well, good on them. But at the end of the day, we are a part of a high-ambition coalition. We have joined with the Marshall Islands and other countries in a statement with them, and we stand by where we are at and what we are doing.

Marama Davidson: If the Government is really providing so much support to the Pacific Islands on climate change, as the Minister claims, will she then show real leadership by reversing the $13 million per year cut to climate-related aid in the Pacific and, instead, increase it?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Certainly from what I have seen we are providing more—for example, we recently committed another $1.3 million to Fiji to help them with their presidency of the 23rd session of the conference of the parties, which we saw as very important. As I say, there are a number of very successful projects, like the $44.6 million in climate related support that has gone in just 1 year alone. Another $3 million has gone into getting the Green Climate Fund operational in helping countries so that those Pacific countries can actually submit applications for that. I would say we work very well with those Pacific countries and want to continue to do so.