NZ MP Kennedy Graham questions the Minister for climate change issues about the latest US climate assessment report

07.05.14 - Question 12: Dr Kennedy Graham to the Minister for Climate Change Issues

Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does he agree that climate change is a clear and present danger, as highlighted by the landmark US Climate Assessment Report released overnight?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues)on behalf of the Minister for Climate Change Issues: In light of the fact that the report came out late last night, New Zealand time, and is some 841 pages, I have not read all of it and I have not yet been briefed on it. I do, however, agree with Minister Groser's endorsement of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which concluded that the warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The Government considers climate change to be a serious issue. This is why we are undertaking a range of measures over the short, medium, and long term to help mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Dr Kennedy Graham: I seek leave of the House to table a hard copy of the report, which has only just come out. It is an overseas publication and I think it would benefit the House.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is for the House to decide. I will put the leave on the basis that this is the hard copy and it may not be readily available to members. Leave is sought to table this particular document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Dr Kennedy Graham: Given the Associate Minister's response that the Minister takes climate change as unequivocal and serious, notwithstanding recent comments subsequent to that by other Cabinet Ministers, will his Government be undertaking a national climate risk assessment, as the US administration has done, and as requested by the Wise Response petition tabled here last sitting week?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I think the member will be well aware that we commission numerous reports. We have officials doing numerous assessments, and, indeed, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process, we are constantly assessing where we are at against the global position.

Dr Kennedy Graham: In light of the US President's pledge to rely on the advice of US scientists to guide US climate policy, will Minister Groser retract his statement in this House of 15 April where he dismissed the accepted findings of a leading New Zealand scientist as "complete and utter nonsense"?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I think precisely what the Minister was referring to was that that academic was absolutely entitled to his opinions, but he really gets deference only when he is talking from his expertise and not straying off that field of expertise.

Dr Kennedy Graham: If the Minister agrees with the US report that the amount of future climate change "will … be determined by "choices society makes about emissions.", will he change his Government's policies, which are currently on track to increase New Zealand's emissions by 50 percent over the next 10 years?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Well, of course, those figures are projections based on an extremely low carbon price globally at the moment. I do not think that anyone is predicting that that is where it stays. What is also true is that the Government has a policy and a strong set of policies to do our fair share, both globally, where we are pushing for a comprehensive agreement, and also domestically, through our emissions trading scheme and in numerous complementary measures, where we are spending significant sums of money in bioenergy, in the Pacific, and in many other areas that, if the member would like to know more, I am happy to tell him about.

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand