February 7, 2008
New Zealand: Under Secretary Dobriansky's January 15 meeting with Prime Minister Clark
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SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND: UNDER SECRETARY DOBRIANSKY'S JANUARY 15 MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER CLARK
Classified By: Consul General John Desrocher for reasons 1.5 (b)
This message was drafted by ConGen Auckland and approved by
1. (C) Summary. New Zealand PM Clark believes the indifference of most Japanese to whaling leaves the most extreme whaling advocates free to drive GOJ policy. Clark opposes Antarctic tourism and she is pleased with her government's efforts to get developing economies to accept
some responsibility for reducing greenhouse gases. Clark also told Under Secretary Dobriansky she is disturbed by Burma's neighbors' attitudes towards that government's repression, as well as by European unwillingness to put strong conditions on its aid to Fiji. Clark reported that the U.K. believes a dual-track approach is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan. Clark and Dobriansky discussed their efforts to promote interfaith dialogue as well as the Secretary's possible visit to New Zealand. End summary.
2. (C) Prime Minister Clark opened her meeting with Under Secretary Dobriansky by describing her concern about tourism SIPDIS at the bottom of the world. Clark said that she "had always been down on tourism" in the Antarctic and adjacent waters, citing its harm to the area's fragile environment and the danger to tourists from the challenging climate and sea conditions. Clark noted that tourism numbers were up,
particularly in the areas claimed by Chile and Argentina. Dobriansky emphasized the U.S. desire to work with New Zealand on the problem, and suggested the appropriate commission should consider the imposition of binding rules governing tourism.
3. (C) Clark called attention to the controversy over Japanese whaling and expressed appreciation for the "staunch" attitude of the U.S. Clark noted that, this season, Japanese whalers were far from New Zealand in Australia's Antarctic waters, a vast area very difficult to patrol. Clark argued that Japan will relent on whaling only when the attitude of the Japanese public changes. Most Japanese are indifferent to whaling, she said, leaving the most adamant proponents free to drive GOJ policy.
4. (C) Dobriansky replied that she has met with New Zealand's International Whaling Commission representative Sir Geoffrey Palmer to consider next steps. The big challenge, Dobriansky explained, was "salvaging the Commission" and dealing more effectively with Japan. With regards to the latter, Dobriansky noted she would sit down with USG's Japan experts to plot out a strategy to be shared with partners like NZ, Australia and the U.K. Regarding the IWC, Clark noted that she has found Malaysia traditionally difficult but, in recent conversations, Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi has sounded more cooperative.
5. (C) Dobriansky expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the Bali Climate Change Conference, particularly the commitment of developing countries to contribute to efforts to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG). She promised that the U.S. would remain active in climate change negotiations as well as in its own major emerging economies program. Clark highlighted her own efforts to "get good statements" on climate change from major international meetings in the run up to Bali, such as Asian regional meetings (APEC, ASEAN) and Commonwealth meetings, in order to draw developing countries like India towards GHG commitments. Clark and Dobriansky agreed that a key argument to make to developing countries like India is that efforts to reduce GHG offer poor countries an opportunity to make technological leaps over the dirty technology that fueled much of the developed world's economic growth.
6. (C) Energy A/S Karsner described U.S. efforts to tackle climate change, citing a USD one billion investment this year to produce cellulose ethanol and reduce tailpipe emissions from cars by up to 87%. The U.S. was working with smaller developed countries like Sweden and Iceland on GHG reduction programs that, if successful, could be scaled up and implemented in large economies like the U.S. Karsner shared
his desire to "green" our stations in Antarctica, both to protect the environment and to reduce costs. He noted that it costs more to deliver fossil fuels to the Antarcticstations than to anywhere else on earth and that the U.S. wants to work with NZ and others to meet the stations' energy needs more efficiently. Similarly, the U.S. was interested in working with NZ in the Pacific on community-scale integrated reduction programs that would help reduce emissions in very small economies, like the Pacific islands.
Emissions Efforts in New Zealand
7. (C) Dobriansky praised Clark's initiative to ensure that 90% of New Zealand's energy needs are met by renewable sources. Clark noted that New Zealand already gets two-thirds of its energy from such sources and can make up the rest with more wind, geothermal and hydro power. Banning new fossil fuel-powered energy generation projects will force
the country to find alternatives, Clark explained.
8. (C) New Zealand faced particular pressure to be green, Clark continued. "We must put substance into the green slogan," Clark said, if NZ is to push back successfully against misguided popular concerns about food miles and tourists' carbon footprints. Clark added that agriculture and tourism form the basis of NZ's economy and must be, and
must be perceived to be, environmentally-friendly.
9. (C) On the Secretary's behalf, Dobriansky invited Clark to the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) in March. Dobriansky and Karsner pointed out the strong interest in the conference from German Chancellor Merkel and the Swedish premier.
10. (C) Clark expressed appreciation for Dobriansky's visit, noting that she was the most senior administration official to visit New Zealand in quite some time. Clark said that she was looking forward to a possible visit from the Secretary, but understood the need to avoid discussing the SIPDIS visit publicly until it was officially agreed and the details were settled. Dobriansky promised to pass in Clark's interest to the Secretary and the Charge noted that the Embassy and Department were working with MFAT on a possible program.
11. (C) Dobriansky thanked Clark for her personal involvement on Burma, prompting Clark to recall her role as the "bad fairy" at a recent ASEAN lunch at which she, to the consternation of Burma's neighbors and while seated directly across from her Burmese counterpart, condemned the junta's human rights violations. China, India and ASEAN "need to stand up," Clark continued, explaining that she had recently told the Chinese premier that it was time for the PRC to take a strong stand on Burma just as it had done on North Korea. Clark added that she also raised the issue with her Indian counterpart and described the Indian attitude as "reprehensible."
12. (C) Clark complained that, while the U.S. has been very supportive of NZ's position on Fiji, the Europeans are "not helpful." She cited European attitudes at the time of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). PIF members were ready to recommend that a non-military interim leader be appointed, but the EU declined to condition its aid on that step and the idea faded. Now, Clark added, New Zealand is "brainstorming to find a path around Bainimarama," who can be rigid. "There are others in Fiji to engage," Clark said.
13. (C) Clark reported that, during her just-completed visit to London, PM Brown pushed for a dual-track approach to Afghanistan and expressed regret over the Afghan Government's recent expulsion of two European diplomats accused of having talks with Taleban leaders. Her U.K. interlocutors, she said, "were surprised by how many Taleban leaders want to talk."
14. (C) After Dobriansky reiterated the President's commitment to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute by the end of his administration, Clark recalled her own efforts to promote interfaith dialogue. Dean Pittman referenced the State Department's initiative in that regard, cautioning that such efforts by governments "need to be subtle." It is a particular challenge for the U.S., Pittman added, because any such initiative from Washington tend to be viewed with
suspicion by the intended audience. Dobriansky explained that reaching out to Muslim youth was particularly important. Clark agreed, noting with regret the success that extremists have had using the Internet to recruit young people.
Prime Minister Helen Clark
Deputy Secretary Carolyn Forsyth, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and Trade (MFAT)
Andrea Smith, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Justin Fepulea'i, MFAT
U/S Paula Dobriansky
A/S Andrew Karsner, DOE
David Keegan, Charge d'Affaires
Dean Pittman, Policy Planning
John Desrocher, Consul General (notetaker)