Road to Rio+20 environmental summit
Mon, 28 May 2012 6:27p.m.
By Alex O'Hara
The World Wildlife Fund says we have failed, but the Government says we're pretty much top of the class when it comes to saving the environment.
Who is right?
The UN will be able make up its own mind next month when progress on targets agreed at a summit 20 years ago are reviewed.
It's an image New Zealand presents to the world - clean, green and pollution free.
This is far from accurate, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
“We expect out rivers and lakes to be clean,” says New Zealand WWF chief executive Chris Howe. “We expect our fisheries to be well managed. We expect our endangered species to be recovered and that's not happening.”
It has found nearly half of New Zealand’s lakes are polluted, iconic species like the maui dolphin are now endangered and the level of pollution is steadily increasing. That’s the opposite of a promise made by the Government 20 years ago at the Rio Earth Summit.
“There are current agreements there that need to be met,” says Mr Howe. “There are current agreements that need to be acted on and this Government is not acting on them.”
But the environment minister says the report should be taken with a "grain of salt", as compared to the rest of the world, New Zealand is doing well.
“We are the only country outside Europe, for example, that has a functioning emissions trading scheme, which immediately tells you we are further ahead than our international compatriots,” says Environment Minister Amy Adams.
She says New Zealand also leads the world when it comes to public participation – just one of the achievements she'll be presenting to next month's Rio+20 reunion.
The UN says the reunion marks a make-or-break date.
“We are one month from a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform ideas and aspirations into bold action,” says United Nations chief Ban Ki Moon.
But at this point the country's going can't even agree what should be on the agenda.
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22/06/2012 7:55:38 p.m.
Since when protecting the New Zealand environment has become a 'contest' where our achievements are assessed against other countries? This line of argument -judging ourselves against others- can lead down the abyss of the lowest common denominator, where as long as we do 'a little bit better' than the others we'll be right. Is this government ready and serious about tackling environmental issues? That's the question. The comments by the Environment Minister indicate to me a rather carefree approach instead of a committed intent.
21/06/2012 9:24:25 p.m.
The NZ government and its ministers must not be allowed to dismiss criticism of our worsening environmental conditions by saying "as compared to the rest of the world, New Zealand is doing well". Compared to many we may not be quite as bad. We used to be held up as "100% Pure",that was our point of difference for tourism and our agricultural exports. We have followed the same unsustainable path as the rest of the developed world, and stupidly made the same mistakes. Other countries have realised their folly, and now are seeing us as becoming little different.
And when our Department of Conservation can look to OK a foreign funded monorail train line and construction road through our Te Wai Pounamu World Heritage Area forest, we must ask does our government really understand its responsibilities.
29/05/2012 10:28:41 a.m.
NZ is spupose to be the least corrupt nation in the world, these reports show corruption of self interest means many local body councils sit on their hands over this matter because of farmers on said councils. The NZ peasantry pay world prices for milk so no sympathy here for costs to farmers to clean up the mess. This needs to be done now not tomorrow. T
29/05/2012 6:04:35 a.m.
The ministers response to this report is unacceptable. I haven't read the report so I can't comment as to my views on it, but I am sure it has some basis for what it is saying. Calling it 'unfair' is not going save the flora and fauna, we all know our country is polluted and getting worse. With our focus set on continuing with unsustainable farming, mining and other completely old fashioned, backward technologies it is little wonder really. There are so many wonderful farming and transport initiatives out there that support and promote the environment, surely this is where NZ needs to start to make changes?
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