NZ hopes to make splash with global plan

By Eloise Gibson

New Zealand's negotiating minister, Tim Groser, said he hoped the announcement today would be 'spectacular'. Photo / Mark Mitchell
New Zealand's negotiating minister, Tim Groser, said he hoped the announcement today would be 'spectacular'. Photo / Mark Mitchell

New Zealand will unveil more details of its global alliance to cut greenhouse gases at a meeting in Copenhagen today.

The Government has plans to lead a fund to research how to cut greenhouse gases from agriculture and is working on getting other countries signed up.

New Zealand's negotiating minister, Tim Groser, said he hoped the announcement today would be "spectacular".

Agriculture is not a separate part of the official climate talks but the Herald understands negotiators have been discussing how to cut emissions while ensuring a strong world food supply.

They are anxious to avoid a repeat of the biofuels push - when well-meaning efforts to cut greenhouse gases resulted in crop land being turned over to biofuels, helping to push up world food prices.

Concern about greenhouse gases from livestock has led some environmentalists to urge people to cut down meat consumption to reduce their greenhouse gas footprints.

At the weekend, the Dutch Environment Assessment Agency hosted a talk at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen entitled "Meat: How far can Governments go in influencing lifestyles?".

Speakers discussed ways to help shoppers move away from eating meat as a "default" and suggested Westerners could be encouraged to eat more like northeast Asians.

In that region people traditionally have healthy diets high in vegetables with only a fraction of the meat of a typical Western diet.

Lord Stern, the author of an influential report on the cost of global warming, caused a stir in England this year when he said a vegetarian diet was better for the planet because it used fewer resources.

He predicted in an interview in the Times newspaper that attitudes to more carbon-intensive types of food would harden over time, as they had hardened towards drinking and driving.

But Mr Groser, who is also the Trade Minister, said the campaign to cut meat consumption was not a threat to New Zealand's trade. He said the answer was to reduce the emissions produced by farming, and that the global alliance would help to do that.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key will on Friday debate New Zealand's contribution to the climate talks on a BBC World television show dubbed The Greatest Debate on Earth: Copenhagen 2009 when he arrives in the Danish capital city.

Government ministers say New Zealand, which will join India, Mexico and Denmark in the debate, has been noticed because it is the only nation outside Europe with an all-sectors emissions trading scheme in place.

But Labour climate change spokesman Charles Chauvel said the trading scheme would be difficult to defend on television, although he wished the Prime Minister well.

The debate will take place at the DR Concert Hall near the Bella Centre starting at 5am on Friday, New Zealand time.

It will be broadcast worldwide on the BBC World network after the climate summit ends on December 19.

- NZ Herald

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