(2014-11-03)The New Zealand government on Monday welcomed the latest international report on climate change - - which warned immediate action was needed to avoid severe and irreversible impacts -- even as critics charged it with enabling the country's relatively high greenhouse gas emissions to keep rising.
Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) assessment report was the best scientific assessment of climate issues available and would inform the negotiations taking place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"New Zealand is taking a balanced approach to climate change: we are playing our part while avoiding imposing excessive costs on households and businesses. We will use the findings from these reports to help develop policies and to take action to mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the effects of climate change," Groser said in a statement.
"As part of our contribution, we are investing in international programs to support global emission reductions and resilience to the impacts of climate change."
New Zealand was also playing a leadership role globally in specific areas, such as leading the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases and the investment of 100 million NZ dollars (77.45 million U.S. dollars) in clean energy in the Pacific and further afield over the next three years.
New Zealand would meet with other countries in Lima, Peru, next month to continue talks towards a comprehensive new global climate change agreement that would take effect from 2020 and apply to all countries.
However, the opposition Green Party said the government had increased New Zealand's emissions, which were already the fifth highest per capita in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) group of developed countries, and rising.
The government was ignoring its own "token pledge" to reduce emissions by 5 percent by 2020, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said in a statement.
"We can do our fair share, but we need to start now. New Zealanders need to know our emissions are going up -- not down as we need them to be," he said.
The main opposition Labour Party said the report had reinforced the need for all electricity to be generated from low carbon sources.
"While it is great that the Climate Change Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the IPCC report -- the big question is whether he will now act decisively to support the IPCC targets," Labour acting climate change spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement.