New Zealand's Ardern announces five-way climate trade talks

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a first of its kind five-way climate trade initiative that would remove tariffs on green technology and cut fossil fuel subsidies.

The initiative was announced along with the prime ministers of Fiji, Iceland, Norway and vice minister of foreign trade of Costa Rica at the United Nations on Wednesday, with formal talks expected to begin next year with the hope of eventually achieving treaty status.

"There's an urgent and critical need for increased global action if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels," said Ardern in announcing the plan called "Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability."

She added: "The case for using trade rules to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies is particularly compelling.

"Globally, we are subsidizing fossil fuel production and consumption to the tune of over $500 billion a year -- this is the height of policy incoherence."

The agreement would also remove tariffs on goods like wind turbines and solar panels, and develop guidelines for eco-labelling.

Further details are so far scant and the five countries have a combined population of just 20 million.

But Ardern said the countries' size allowed them to act rapidly and in line with the urgency of the situation, and said she hoped others would join them.

Ardern has previously signaled New Zealand will raise its commitments under the Paris agreement by next year, and New Zealand is one of 65 countries that have pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The country of just under 5 million people has also committed to 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2035.