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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2012

United Nations General Assembly
The International Day to Commemorate the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Statement by Jim McLay, New Zealand Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 26 March 2012

I welcome this opportunity to make some opening remarks for this important session.

So far, this seminar has heard some differing perspectives on a green economy.

You’ve addressed it in the context of Rio +20; and you’ve discussed the transition to a green economy – particularly the important need for cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Now, we move to that most practical of all issues – what are the possible green energy solutions?; how viable are they?; and how might those green energy solutions be achieved?

Any discussion of a green economy raises sensitive issues.

Not unnaturally, there are those who regard such issues – and their possible inclusion, for example, in the Rio +20 outcome document – as further examples of environmental conditionality that will only hamper development.

It might possibly be less sensitive if we regarded pursuit of green economy objectives as a pragmatic approach, not as a new paradigm; it is as much about how we grow, as it is about how much we grow. 

New Zealand, for one, supports mutually reinforcing environmental, social and economic policies that make the most of opportunities to develop new industries, new jobs and new technologies, and that seek efficiencies in resource use and transform consumption patterns.

We certainly don't advocate trying to achieve a green economy with a one-size-fits-all approach.

We seek a flexible approach will allow countries to implement policies and activities suitable for their own, national context; not least, their particular stage of development. 

A flexible approach to the “Green Economy” will allow countries to implement policies and activities suitable to their own national contexts.

As a country that’s been at the forefront of advocating free and open trade, and the global removal of all trade barriers – measures that would unquestionably help developing countries – we don’t want to see any conditionality, no matter how it is dressed up, that establishes or maintains such barriers.

It’s vital that any pursuit of a green economy avoid trade distorting measures and that it not impose new, green barriers to trade. 

There are opportunities for new programmes and for addressing existing policy disincentives to green growth (for example, by the removal of environmentally harmful subsidies and the removal of barriers to trade in environmental goods and services).

In short: “Green” and “growth” can go hand in hand.

That's what New Zealand, for one, supports – and we’d like to see a tangible outcome on that at Rio+20.

Pacific states in particular have voiced the importance of the “Blue Economy” (as the Pacific’s version of the Green Economy) – particularly through the sustainable use of oceans and fisheries.

And, when we talk about "green energy", we don't just talk the talk – we also walk the walk.

In my country, 73 percent of all electricity is generated from renewable resources; and we've set an ambitious but achievable target to get that up to 90 percent by 2025. 

Let me, then, pose some questions that are central to this very practical session.

What are the possible green energy solutions?

How viable are they?; and how might they be achieved.

What green energy solutions are available today?

How reliable are the economics of green energy?

What can be done to make green energy solutions affordable for developing countries?

What can be done to make green energy solutions economically and commercially viable, in both developing and developed countries (because we do need to remember that viability is as much an issue for developed countries as it is for the developing)?

How can the international community promote the increased use of renewable energies, and promote energy efficiency, particularly in developing and least developed countries?

And should Rio+20 consider the design of principles to guide policy makers who are seeking green energy solutions, perhaps by building on international consensus where that exists?


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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT