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New Zealand extends climate commitment to Tokelau amid new criticism

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-11-17 11:02

WELLINGTON - The New Zealand government is to extend the ratification of two major international climate change pacts to the tiny Pacific island nation of Tokelau, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett said Thursday.

The decision to include Tokelau, a mostly self-governing New Zealand territory, in the ratification of both the Climate Change Convention and the Paris Agreement was a significant step for the Pacific, said Bennett.

Tokelau's population was 1,383 at the end of 2013, but all Tokelauans have New Zealand citizenship and 7,173 people with full or partial Tokelauan descent lived in New Zealand at that time.

Bennett, who is in Marrakech attending the historic first agreement of the Parties to the Agreement group of countries that signed up to the Paris Agreement, made the announcement in a statement from her office.

"New Zealand and Pacific countries are serious about addressing climate change at home and in the world, particularly in the Pacific where we can really help to make a difference," said Bennett.

"We are providing up to 200 million NZ dollars (141.74 million US dollars) for climate-related support over four years, the majority of which will benefit the Pacific. We'll be building stronger public infrastructure, supporting clean and affordable energy, strengthening disaster preparedness, and supporting low-carbon economic growth," she said.

New Zealand and Pacific countries were aligned in pushing for a strong global response to climate change.

"Tuvalu is on course to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and in Tokelau, all three atolls are now effectively 100-percent renewable energy from solar generation," she said.

The announcement came as the New Zealand government was awarded the "Fossil of the Day" award at the conference for showing hypocrisy towards fossil fuel subsidy reforms, said the New Zealand Youth Delegation.

The government was encouraging other countries to remove fossil fuel subsidies, while at the same time advertising oil and gas exploration prospects and aiming to increase the value of New Zealand petroleum tenfold a year by 2025, delegation member Alex Johnston said in a statement.

"Not only is the New Zealand government hoping to increase the value of petroleum exports in the future, they're already providing tax breaks and funding the scientific research that is needed by these industries before they will commit to exploration in New Zealand waters," said Johnston.


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