By Samantha Hayes
Climate scientists have slammed the Government's decision to pull out of the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol saying it'll have disastrous consequences.
But Climate Change Minister Tim Groser says Kyoto is “toxic” and simply won't work, defending the Government's decision to pull out of the protocol.
He says strategically it's best to be aligned with the world's big greenhouse gas emitters – China and the United States – and pulling out is the only way forward.
“There is zero possibility of the US joining Kyoto, so I think we're in the right space,” says Climate Change Minster Tim Groser. “I know other people have a different view. We are with the US. We are with China.”
Those two countries alone are responsible for 70 percent of the world's emissions, and without them, Mr Groser says, the 15-year-old climate treaty could be renamed the Kyoto cul-de-sac.
“If we don't get serious collective action, we are wasting our time,” says Mr Groser.
But critics have slammed the move because New Zealand can now set its own emission reduction targets that aren't legally binding.
“[It is] irresponsible, shameful and short-sighted,” says climate change Youth Delegate Simon Tapp. “This is a cop out. It's an avoidance of New Zealand's fair share. It's really damaging.”
The latest report found that if every country achieved its voluntary emission reduction targets, global temperatures would still rise by 4degC in the next 90 years. But actual reductions are much lower, so we're tracking towards a rise of 6degC, and climate scientists say that will have catastrophic consequences.
Professor Jim Salinger says Superstorm Sandy is just one example.
“We'd have massive food shortage and droughts in Africa,” says climate expert Professor Jim Salinger. “We'd have devastation of the coral reefs, and in New Zealand, our snow and ice cover on the Southern Alps would reduce to 10 percent of what we now have.”
“Well if indeed the more pessimistic scenarios turn out to be reality, I can tell you this: it won't make a single cent of difference what New Zealand does with 0.2 percent of emissions,” says Mr Groser.
So we're following the super powers, and scientists hope now that US president Barack Obama doesn't have to worry about re-election, he may have the will to tackle the unpopular issue of climate change.