The Future is Equal


Oxfam welcomes support from political parties for fossil fuel free Pacific: We need to stop polluting, and start paying

Oxfam Aotearoa says all major parties must show they are listening to Pacific demands on climate change ahead of this year’s general election.

At a pre-election debate on Thursday night, Oxfam raised two key demands that all parties must support: an historic proposed Pacific leaders’ climate change declaration, and an increase and continuation of much-needed climate finance.

“These issues are crucial to Oxfam and to our allies in the Pacific”, says Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry. “Pacific governments have shown incredible leadership this year in their call for a regional Just Transition away from fossil fuels. We are seeking unanimous cross-party support for the Port Vila Call at the Pacific Islands Forum in November, and a scale up of the crucial financial assistance we provide to countries to adapt and respond.

“Achieving the vision of a fossil fuel free Pacific will require every country in the region to do our bit, and we still need to see these parties’ plans to deliver on our own part of this goal here at home. The good news is that we have the solutions: wealthier countries like ours need to urgently stop polluting, and start paying . These plans must include a full, fair, fast and funded transition away from fossil fuels here in Aotearoa – shutting down oil, gas and coal on land and at sea for good – and ongoing commitments to pay our fair share of climate finance.

“It’s past time we listen to the people who are on the frontlines of this crisis. Climate change is here and now, and our Pacific neighbours have known this and borne the brunt of its impacts for years. This summer’s cyclones in Aotearoa are an unavoidable reminder that we aren’t immune ourselves.

“As we near the election, we want to see all political parties making commitments to act in line with climate justice. Reopening our coastlines to exploitation by the riskiest players in this dirty global industry is a step in the wrong direction. The science shows there’s no room for new oil, gas or coal if we’re to keep warming to 1.5 degrees. The call to end the era of fossil fuel pollution has never been stronger. The offshore ban put New Zealand on the map for our climate leadership – we simply can’t afford to take such a massive backwards step as to undo it.”

Oxfam’s key asks

 As part of the Climate Shift coalition, Oxfam is calling on all parties to:

  • End new oil, gas and coal exploration and extraction on land and at sea, and commit to the Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific.
  • Stand with affected communities in the Pacific by renewing and scaling up our climate finance commitments, with new and additional funding to address loss and damage caused by climate change.

Parties’ positions at the Council for International Development and New Zealand Institute for International Affairs pre-Election Debate


  • Did not comment on whether they would maintain and scale up New Zealand climate finance post-2025.
  • Support for the Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific would depend on whether or not the ‘Pacific’ is defined to include New Zealand. Additionally mentioned ACT’s commitment to reopen offshore fossil fuel exploration and production.

Green Party

  • Would maintain and scale up New Zealand climate finance post-2025.
  • Supports the Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific, and would support a Leaders’ Declaration at the Pacific Islands Forum.


  • Would maintain and scale up New Zealand climate finance post-2025.
  • Supports the Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific, and would support a Leaders’ Declaration at the Pacific Islands Forum.


  • Did not comment on whether they would maintain and scale up New Zealand climate finance post-2025.
  • Did not comment on party support for the Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific, and would “wait and see” what happens at the Pacific Islands Forum to determine whether they would support a Leaders’ Declaration.

Budget 2023 a missed opportunity for climate justice that could have devastating results

Oxfam Aotearoa’s climate justice lead Nick Henry said:  

“Despite the undeniable urgency of the climate crisis and the imperative to take immediate and bold action, the Government’s Budget falls far short of what is required to mitigate and adapt to the escalating impacts of the climate crisis. After the year Aotearoa has had, Oxfam is shocked to see the Government still isn’t taking the climate crisis seriously. We know New Zealanders want to see our government take stronger action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It is crucial our government stand with our communities in Aotearoa and the Pacific. 

“This Budget includes some welcome climate change initiatives. But it’s deeply disappointing that the Government’s poor planning, and failure to act on the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations, have resulted in $800m in devastating slashes to funding available for climate action – and have taken $1.9b away from other important spending to support our communities.  

“It’s staggeringly unjust that our Pacific neighbours contribute the least to the climate crisis, and yet they are facing the worst and earliest impacts. In the Pacific, loss and damage isn’t just a future worry – it’s a current reality. People are losing their homes and livelihoods, seeing their whole way of life threatened, by rising seas and extreme weather made worse by climate change.   

“Pacific countries deserve the dignity of knowing that Aotearoa New Zealand isn’t just going to drop funding – they need to be able to plan. This Budget gives no reassurance beyond 2025, when previously announced climate finance funds run out. Pacific communities, and governments around the world need certainty that the New Zealand Government will stand with them. 

“Oxfam Aotearoa urges the government to seize this opportunity to demonstrate global leadership by adequately funding climate mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage. We call on the New Zealand Government to commit to continuing our climate finance, and to paying our fair share to support communities in our Pacific region. It is not fair for those least responsible for climate change to bear the brunt of its impacts, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that they receive the necessary support and resources to cope and thrive. 

“Oxfam Aotearoa stands ready to work collaboratively with the government and other stakeholders to develop robust solutions, advocate for stronger climate action, and ensure that no one is left behind in our pursuit of a just and sustainable future.” 

Land used for European biofuels could feed 120 million people daily

CO2 benefits of biofuels pale in significance to simply giving land back to nature, while using just 2.5% of the land for solar panels would produce the same amount of energy

Europe currently wastes land the size of Ireland on crops for biofuels which is an obstacle to tackling the climate crisis and food security, a new study shows. The study commissioned by Transport and Environment (T&E) shows that this land could be used to feed 120 million people or, if given back to nature, could absorb twice as much CO2 as is supposedly saved by powering cars with biofuels. Using an area equivalent to just 2.5% of this land for solar panels would produce the same amount of energy.

Maik Marahrens, biofuels manager at T&E, said: “Biofuels are a failed experiment. To continue to burn food as fuel while the world is facing a growing global food crisis is borderline criminal. Countries like Germany and Belgium are discussing limiting food crop biofuels in response. The rest of Europe must follow suit.”

Julie Bos, EU climate justice policy advisor at Oxfam, said: “The EU’s biofuel policy is a catastrophe for hundreds of millions of people who are struggling to find their next meal. Not only does it surrender vast swathes of cropland to fuel cars, but it also pushes food prices even higher. European countries must once and for all stop burning food for fuel.”

According to the research, land cultivated to grow crops for biofuels could be used to provide the calorie needs of at least 120 million people [1]. It would be more than enough to cover the 50 million people that the UN says are “in emergency or worse levels of acute food insecurity.” With world fertiliser prices sky-high and the UN-brokered deal that allowed shipments of grain out of Ukraine in the balance, the organisations call on European governments to prioritise food over fuel.

This is made worse due to biofuels’ questionable climate benefits. Crop biofuels consumed in Europe require a total of 9.6 million hectares of land – an area larger than the island of Ireland (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) [2]. If this were returned to its natural state, it could absorb around 65 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere – nearly twice the officially reported net CO2 savings from biofuels replacing fossil fuels. 

Using the land for solar farms would also be far more efficient. You need 40 times more land to power a car using biofuels compared to an electric car powered by solar energy, the analysis shows. An area just 2.5% of the land currently dedicated to biofuels would be needed for solar to produce the same amount of energy, leaving the rest available for rewilding or growing food.

Right now we surrender vast swathes of land for crops that we simply burn in our cars. It’s a scandalous waste. This land could feed millions of people or, if given back to nature, provide carbon sinks rich in biodiversity. Crop biofuels are probably the dumbest thing ever promoted in the name of the climate,” concludes Maik Marahrens.

The EU has set itself targets to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity in its Nature Restoration Law. With biofuel feedstocks taking up a good chunk of Europe’s croplands, ending the use of land for biofuels could be an important step to achieving this goal.


Notes to editor

[1] If the land now fully dedicated to biofuels for consumption in Europe (5.3 Mha) would be used for growing wheat.

[2] This figure refers to the total area needed to grow the crops used for Europe’s biofuels consumption. A share of these crops is going into ‘co-products’, mainly animal feed. The following numbers given on food and carbon sequestration in this press release refer to the area allocated to biofuels, only (5.3Mha), excluding the area allocated to co-products (4.3Mha).

Reaction to Government update on agriculture emissions

In reaction to today’s update on agriculture emissions, Oxfam Aotearoa’s Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry, said:

“We are frustrated that the Government is not taking climate destruction seriously enough. We should be aiming for the lowest possible climate pollution, not the lowest possible price on agricultural emissions.

“While we welcome Aotearoa New Zealand’s pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030, these current proposals to price agricultural emissions are estimated to reduce methane emissions by only around 4%. It doesn’t add up.

“The experts have spoken: reducing methane pollution now, as part of reducing total carbon emissions, is essential to avoiding the climate crisis getting worse for us here in Aotearoa, for our friends and whānau in the Pacific, and around the world.

“The Government needs to support our farmers to do their fair share of reducing climate pollution by fully pricing emissions and funding a shift to regenerative low emissions agriculture.”

Oxfam Aotearoa calls for:

  • A pricing system that ensures agriculture contributes a fair share of the emission reductions needed to meet our domestic and international commitments, including the Global Methane Pledge.
  • Emissions need to be priced now, not 2025.
  • The government must scrap the 95 percent discount – the agriculture industry should be paying their fair share.
  • The government needs to invest in equipping farmers to shift production modes and adjust land use to build a flourishing, regenerative organic food and fibre sector.

Reaction: Lawyers for Climate Action v Climate Change Commission verdict

The NZ Climate Action Network, a network of individual organisations that work together to tackle climate change, react to the Lawyers for Climate Action v Climate Change Commission verdict:

Cindy Baxter, Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson said: 

“What’s shocking in this decision is the Court’s ruling that the 1.5˚C warming limit in the Zero Carbon Act is not legally binding. We call on the government to change the Act accordingly, and on the Climate Change Commission to deliver advice as to how we get there, which it clearly has not done.

“The central issue in this court case is the creative accounting around emissions deployed by the New Zealand Government, an accounting system that makes our 2030 emissions reduction target look like a 50% cut when in fact it’s only 22%. We need more transparency around our accounting system.”

Christine Rose, Greenpeace senior agriculture campaigner said:

“This case has highlighted this government’s failure to actively protect the basic right of a safe and stable climate for all. Intensive dairying threatens this right, being to New Zealand what coal is to Australia and tar sands are to Canada. If this Government is serious about tackling the climate crisis, it must do what we already know will cut climate pollution from intensive dairying: phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, substantially reduce stocking rates, and support farmers to shift to more plant-based regenerative organic farming.”

Nick Henry, Oxfam Aotearoa climate justice lead said:

“The law may not have forced the government to act consistently with the science today, but ultimately, the science will force us to act or suffer the consequences. Emissions must be cut in half globally, quickly, to avoid devastating impacts on all of humanity.   

“We can only limit the worst impacts of climate destruction – the impact to homes, to the food we grow, and the places we love – if we take action at the scale necessary to keep global heating to within 1.5 degrees. 

Dr Jim Salinger, Wise Response Society deputy chair said:

“We know that climate change is here. What was a river delta and the breadbasket of Pakistan is now a lake; a third of the country is under water and millions of people are displaced. Closer to home, Nelson has suffered one-in-a-hundred-year flooding accompanied by slips, erosion, wastewater pollution, and losses of hundreds of homes and other infrastructure that will take decades to fix. 

“Dangerous climate extremes will continue to become more frequent and more extreme with each fraction of a degree the mean global surface temperature rises. New Zealand has committed to doing its part to mitigate climate change. This means real action to cut emissions, across all sectors of society, and it means calculating our carbon budgets using internationally respectable accounting methods.”

Together, these organisations call on the government to revise its emissions budgets in line with the science, and to urgently bring in the following policies to cut emissions: 

  • A proper price on agricultural emissions that will reduce pollution in line with the science of 1.5°C  
  • A significant reduction in synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use and a $1 billion investment in regenerative, organic farming    
  • No new fossil fuel vehicles by 2030, and free public transport for community service cardholders, under 25s and tertiary students  
  • Ending new oil, coal and gas exploration on Aotearoa soil and seas or extensions of current permits.

Loss and damage fund at COP27 a monumental win, if properly funded

Responding to the final communiqué of the COP27 climate talks in Sharm El-Sheikh, Gabriela Bucher, Oxfam International’s Executive Director, said:

“The establishment of a loss and damage fund is a monumental achievement for vulnerable developing countries and communities at the frontlines of the climate crisis. They have been calling for funding to cope with the devastating impacts of climate change for over 30 years.

“Given the urgency on the ground, the fund must be operationalised as soon as possible. Rich countries largely responsible for warming our planet should immediately mobilise substantial new and additional resources to pay for climate-related damage in vulnerable countries.

“In East Africa, nearly 40 million people are experiencing climate-induced hunger. Recent catastrophic floods in Pakistan have inflicted more than US$30 billion in damages and economic losses and left 10 to 12 percent of the country’s land area under water, affecting more than 33 million people. The list of extreme weather events and disasters is growing, as are the devastating impacts on communities.

“While we applaud the establishment of the loss and damage fund, we remain deeply concerned about countries’ failure to agree on an equitable and urgent phase-out of all fossil fuels. The world is on track for a catastrophic 2.8°C of warming.

“Rich countries, especially the US and those in the EU, have failed to use their power and resources to meet their fair share of responsibility and their moral and legal obligations. Rich countries and many middle-income countries that have the ability to do so are not transitioning away from fossil fuels fast enough to keep warming below 1.5°C, leading to more losses, damages and suffering. Rich countries are not providing the necessary finance to support developing countries to leapfrog to renewable energy.

“Rich countries have broken their US$100 billion climate finance promise and successfully blocked language at COP27 that would have required them to compensate for earlier shortfalls through increased climate finance in subsequent years. Climate finance is needed in the trillions for adaptation and mitigation. Given their responsibility for the climate crisis, rich countries at least could have provided a clear roadmap on how to deliver the US$600 billion they had promised between 2020 and 2025.

“We are also dismayed by the discussions to enhance the Gender Action Plan, which was at the heart of the UNFCCC processes for gender-responsive climate action. Gender was only marginally mentioned, if at all, in the climate talks’ decisions.

“The climate crisis is about inequality and injustice. Communities at the frontlines of the climate crisis are bearing the heaviest brunt of climate-induced disasters, in addition to multiple crises including conflict, loss of livelihoods, and economic shocks. World leaders must push political differences aside and put the needs of these communities first.”