NZ commits $1.3bn to climate change aid


New Zealand has carved off a sizeable chunk of its foreign aid budget towards combating climate change, committing NZ$1.3 billion(US$920,000) to support vulnerable communities.

The pledge, over four years, is being made in the run-up to November’s climate change conference in Glasgow, known as COP26.

Half of the commitment will go towards Pacific nations.

New Zealand’s previous commitment was $300 million (US$212 million).

The announcement comes after the Government was criticised last week for a lacklustre draft emissions reduction plan last week and a couple of weeks ahead of Climate Change Minister James Shaw travelling to Glasgow for a crucial United Nations climate change conference.

The Government claims that the increase in funding means that New Zealand will now be paying its fair share towards global climate funding. About half the money will go towards climate mitigation efforts in the Pacific and be administered as part of New Zealand’s aid programme, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.

“The rest of it will go through a variety of projects, but it includes other partner projects around the world, and also multilateral institutions like the Green Climate Fund which was set up under the auspices of the UN.”

Despite New Zealand looking at many years of budget deficits, Shaw said defended the big boost in spending, saying “the climate crisis hasn’t gone away just because there is a pandemic on”.

“I firmly believe that government is able to walk and chew gum at the same time, right. We need to support people in the Pacific, and we need to support people here at home as well,” he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement: “The investment will enable New Zealand to support clean energy projects in developing countries, ensure buildings are able to withstand more damaging storms, crops are resilient to droughts, floods and new pests, and communities are protected from sea level rise and storm surges.

“Our new contribution far eclipses the pledges New Zealand has made previously. With the climate change clock ticking, it is important we lift our contribution now and bring it into line with other countries,” she said.

This is the third climate finance commitment made by the New Zealand Government, which has been steadily ramping up since the first commitment was made along with the Paris Agreement in 2015.

“The commitment period that we are currently in was for $300 million (US$212 million), so the amount that we’re putting in – $1.3b (US$920,000) – is obviously just over four times that. The $300 million (US$212 million) over the current period is a doubling of the previous effort which was $150m,” Shaw said.

He said New Zealand’s previous contributions were not up to snuff.

“Our previous commitments, I would have to say, have not represented what we would call a fair share of that commitment towards the US$100bIillion total.”

An Oxfam report in December 2020 ranked New Zealand at 21 out of 23 developed countries for its contribution to internal climate finance on a per capita basis.

“Comparatively wealthy countries like Aotearoa New Zealand have a duty to do everything we possibly can to stop this getting worse, and to support countries to prepare for the unavoidable changes we have already forced on the climate,” Shaw said.