The Future is Equal


Oxfam reacts to Commission’s advice on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme

Oxfam Aotearoa welcomes the latest advice from the Climate Change Commission to the Government calling for an urgent decision about how it will prioritise emissions reduction in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS). Oxfam Aotearoa Interim Executive Director Dr Jo Sprat said: 

“The Commission is on the right track: All sectors of Aotearoa’s economy, including agriculture, need to do their fair share in reducing climate pollution. 

“Aotearoa can’t just rely on planting permanent pine forests, or paying other countries to reduce emissions for us. The role of international carbon credits and carbon off-setting, including whether these will be integrated into the ETS or kept separate is as clear as mud. The Government must urgently provide clarity, just as the Commission recommends.  

“What also concerns us is how the Government will make sure human rights are upheld, including indigenous and community land rights. If it is not done right, using international credits as an alternative to reducing our own carbon emissions from industries like agriculture could do serious harm to communities – especially those on the frontlines, such as our Pacific friends and family who experience the worst impacts of climate destruction every day. 

“The Commission’s advice underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive plan for a just transition, in consultation with tangata whenua and all communities, to support a move to a less polluting and more equitable economy in Aotearoa. We couldn’t agree more. A just transition would make sure the rising cost of carbon pollution in the NZ ETS doesn’t unfairly fall on those least able to pay.” 

Oxfam’s verdict on the COP26 outcome

Gabriela Bucher, Oxfam International Executive Director said:

“Clearly some world leaders think they aren’t living on the same planet as the rest of us. It seems no amount of fires, rising sea levels or droughts will bring them to their senses to stop increasing emissions at the expense of humanity.

“Punishing, extreme weather is already wrecking the lives of the most vulnerable. People are barely clinging on, having little resources to cope with the constant threat of losing all that they own. The world’s poorest have done the least to cause the climate emergency, yet are the ones left struggling to survive while also footing the bill.

“The request to strengthen 2030 reduction targets by next year is an important step. The work starts now. Big emitters, especially rich countries, must heed the call and align their targets to give us the best possible chance of keeping 1.5 degrees within reach. Despite years of talks, emissions continue to rise, and we are dangerously close to losing this race against time.

“Developing countries, representing over 6 billion people, put forward a loss and damage finance facility to build back in the aftermath of extreme weather events linked to climate change. Not only did rich countries block this, all they would agree to is limited funding for technical assistance and a ‘dialogue’. This derisory outcome is tone deaf to the suffering of millions of people both now and in the future.

“For the first time, a goal for adaptation finance was agreed. The commitment to double is below what developing countries asked for and need, but if realised it will increase support to developing countries by billions.  

“It’s painful that diplomatic efforts have once more failed to meet the scale of this crisis. But we should draw strength from the growing movement of people around the world challenging and holding our governments to account for everything we hold dear.  A better world is possible. With creativity, with bravery, we can and must hold onto that belief.”

Oxfam Aotearoa: Fossil of the Day award “embarrassing”

Oxfam Aotearoa has criticised the New Zealand government for winning the runner up for the “Fossil of the Day” award that Minister James Shaw received at COP26 overnight. The award, presented by the Climate Action Network (CAN), is given to the nation who has hindered COP26 negotiations the most. Oxfam Aotearoa Campaign Lead Alex Johnston said:

“It is embarrassing that our government is receiving such an ‘award’ on a global stage. This is not a good representation of Kiwis; this is not our kaupapa.”

CAN pointed out that the New Zealand government put out a revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) the night before COP, which Oxfam Aotearoa and other organisations said was inconsistent with the Paris Agreement due to its unambitious 2030 target. Oxfam previously reprimanded the updated NDC saying that it relies heavily on paying other countries to do the work for us. As CAN said in their release put out today:

“[Minister Shaw] said that just because a refreshing of the NDC has been asked of countries ‘it doesn’t mean we have to’. This comes from a country that gives off the ‘greener than thou’ vibe at the drop of a hobbits hat. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when it was brought to our attention that he’s also the guy who put out a revised NDC the night before COP. That one wasn’t worth the wait, unfortunately.  Civil society commentators widely regarded it as a Grade A hatchet job, inconsistent with Paris temperature goals, wholly unambitious on 2030 target and relying heavily on carbon markets.”

Johnston says that the New Zealand government can’t tell other countries to close the ambition gap for 1.5 degrees if we are not willing to do that ourselves:

“The government’s delay to the Emissions Reduction Plan means we are falling further and further behind. We also can’t call for transparency when our NDC hides the fact that domestic emissions will only be cut by around 7-9% below 2005 levels by 2030 on a net-net basis.

“For Minister Shaw to undermine the encouragement to return with greater NDCs in 2022 before the final text has been agreed is extremely disappointing. It’s a reflection of the laggard pace of our domestic action. Each day we delay bolder action means more people go hungry, lose their homes and die.

“Minister Shaw needs to come back from Glasgow with the clear message: Aotearoa New Zealand must scale up our domestic response and increase ambition each year until we are doing our fair share to keep global heating to 1.5 degrees.”

Scotland to significantly increase its Climate Justice Fund

Welcoming the news that Scotland will significantly increase its Climate Justice Fund, Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:

“This announcement from the First Minister has hugely raised the stakes as the COP26 talks enter their final few hours: sending a powerful message to the leaders of other rich nations that it’s simply unconscionable to leave poor countries picking up the tab for a climate crisis they did least to cause.

“Other governments must now step up and follow Scotland’s lead by making substantial new financial commitments to developing countries, where people are already losing their lives, homes and livelihoods to climate change.”


Notes to Editor

  • Read the full announcement by the Scottish Government here:
  • The Scottish Government had previously announced it would boost its Climate Justice Fund to £24 million over the life of the current Parliament. It will now increase the Fund by a further £12 million.
  • Last week, Scotland became the first rich nation to create a dedicated fund for countries experiencing the irreversible impacts of climate change. This pioneering ‘loss and damage’ fund, set within the wider Climate Justice Fund, was originally set at £1m. Today’s announcement sees loss and damage funding doubled to £2 million.

Oxfam responds to the launch of the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance

Responding to the launch of the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA), a group of nations committed to phasing out domestic oil and gas production, Oxfam’s climate policy lead Nafkote Dabi said:

“This is a welcome initiative that we encourage all oil and gas producing nations to join. Its success will depend on which governments sign up. Committing to reach net zero emissions while continuing to extract and produce fossil fuels is an epic contradiction that must be called out once and for all. 

“While this alliance is rightly open to all, it must be led by industrialised countries that have grown rich from decades of extracting and burning fossil fuels. For this initiative to work, they must lead the way to a fossil-free economic model and enable poorer countries to access the benefits of low-carbon technology.

“The International Energy Agency is clear that there is no room for new fossil fuel production if we are to limit global heating to 1.5°C, and that new production must immediately cease in industrialised countries that have historically benefited from extraction. Communities are already suffering the impacts of virtually endless droughts, rising oceans and super-charged storms. Every fraction of a degree of warming costs lives.”

Notes to editors:

The Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA) was announced in September 2021 and is being officially launched today at 12:45GMT at the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, UK.

The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2021 said that “no new oil and gas fields are required beyond those already approved for development” under its Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario

Oxfam responds to the draft COP26 decision text

Responding to the draft COP26 decision text, Tracy Carty, head of Oxfam’s COP26 delegation said

“This draft COP decision text is too weak. It fails to respond to the climate emergency being faced by millions of people now, who are living with unprecedented extreme weather and being pushed further into poverty.  

“It fails to include clear and unambiguous commitment to increase the ambition of 2030 emission reduction targets next year to keep 1.5 degrees alive. Emissions are rising, not falling and current commitments are way off track for keeping this goal within reach.

“There are just two days left to negotiate a better deal. One that commits to increase adaptation finance to 50 per cent by 2025, takes seriously developing country demands for finance for loss and damage, and sends the strongest possible signal emission reduction targets will increase next year in line with 1.5 degrees.”