Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Climate change: we should be ashamed II

Back in 2006, Helen Clark showed some vision for once and announced a bold plan to make New Zealand carbon neutral. The new National government has since abandoned that goal in favour of a relaxed "50% by 2050 (and nothing now)" - but in the meantime others are moving ahead with it. The latest is Tuvalu, a tiny Pacific island nation, which has just announced that it plans to be carbon neutral by 2020:

The tiny Pacific island state of Tuvalu has said it wants all its energy to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Public Utilities Minister Kausea Natano said his nation of 12,000 people wanted to set an example to others.


The government hopes to use wind and solar power to generate electricity, instead of imported diesel.

"We look forward to the day when our nation offers an example to all - powered entirely by natural resources such as the sun and the wind," Kausea Natano said.

The BBC article is slightly misleading, in that Tuvalu is targeting only electricity rather than primary energy (which would include transport fuels) - but still: another developing nation is adopting an ambitious climate change goal, despite the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities", and more importantly, taking concrete steps to achieve it. And this despite the cost - $20 million is peanuts to our government, but its one and a half years of Tuvalu's GDP. They are taking climate change seriously - not least because with a highest point only 4.5 metres above seas level, they're in danger of being washed away if the oceans rise. And meanwhile, our government, with vastly more resources at its disposal, is trying to get away with doing the least amount possible - in the process shifting the burden of paying for it from countries like us, who caused the problem in the first place, to countries like Tuvalu and the Maldives, who didn't and have far less ability to pay for it. This is fundamentally unjust, and we should all be ashamed of it.