Question on the Paris Climate Change Agreement 02.06.16:
Paris Climate Change Agreement—Presentation of Parliament
9. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does the Government intend to present the Paris Climate Change Agreement to Parliament and ratify it before the end of 2016?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment) on behalf of the Minister for Climate Change Issues: New Zealand was a signatory to the Paris Agreement on the very first day. The next step is a national interest analysis, which will be presented with the Paris Agreement to Parliament and is subject to the treaty examination process. The timing of ratification has not yet been determined. The treaty requires 55 percent of emissions and 55 countries for the Paris Agreement to come into force.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Why is New Zealand unable to commit to ratifying the agreement in 2016, when six Pacific Island States have already ratified, and China, the US, France, Canada, Mexico, and Australia have all said that they will do it this year?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I find the member’s question ironic in that his party has argued that New Zealand, particularly with respect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), needs to have a very thorough parliamentary process around the examination of treaties before ratification. I would simply say to the Green Party, it cannot demand one process on the TPP to be as slow as possible, and then a separate process around the Paris Agreement on Climate Change that is the opposite.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Given that 7 months is an entirely reasonable time to do all of what the Minister has said, and to ratify at the end of that, and given that New Zealand has only 14 years to meet the commitment it made under the Paris Agreement, why will the Minister not get on and do that, ratify it, and give business a clear signal to begin the transition to a cleaner future?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I know that the Minister is ambitious to move forward with ratification as quickly as is practical, but the first legal step that is required is the national interest analysis, and part of that work is in terms of requiring the legislative or regulatory changes that New Zealand needs to take to be able to ratify the agreement. I would also note that the same Minister has just put through Parliament changes to our emissions trading scheme that mean that it is one of the most comprehensive and effective emissions trading schemes anywhere in the world.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Given that all those responsibilities can indeed be cleared up in the course of calendar 2016, is not the real reason that the Minister will not commit to ratifying the Paris Agreement because the Government is holding out hope that it can still resort to international carbon trading and avoid cutting pollution in New Zealand?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The member is completely mistaken. Even with the process of ratification, the issue about what units from the previous Kyoto agreement will be available or not is still going to be the subject of subsequent discussions through the regular climate change forums. For instance, the Kyoto agreement took five further meetings to determine all the rules. That would equally be true of the Paris Agreement, and that is in no way any barrier to New Zealand being able to get on with ratification, which the Minister is committed to doing as quickly as practically is possible.