Urged to show way on climate

Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben
New Zealand should ''take some leadership'' over climate change issues, American environmentalist and climate change campaigner Bill McKibben urged in Dunedin yesterday.

He gave a public talk on climate change issues in Dunedin last night, hosted by the Otago Climate Change Network.

Mr McKibben, who founded the influential environmental group 350.org, said in an interview New Zealand's recent mixed track record on climate change issues was already putting the country's ''clean green'' international image at risk.

''I'm afraid that image is starting to change around the world.''

A staunch critic of the fossil fuel industry, he said New Zealand was ''starting to explore for offshore oil'', and warned about the huge oil spill which had occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 through a deep sea drilling accident.

An attentive audience applauds  United States environmentalist and climate change campaigner Bill...
An attentive audience applauds United States environmentalist and climate change campaigner Bill McKibben during his address at the Colquhoun lecture theatre, Dunedin Hospital, last night. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
A move which could also affect the way the country was perceived abroad was the New Zealand Government's decision last month to approve an open-cast coal mine on conservation land on the Denniston Plateau, near Westport, he said.

''It would be good to have some countries that provided some leadership on climate [change], which is the greatest crisis the world has ever faced.

''This problem is getting much, much worse.''

Recent extensive melting of ice in the Arctic was ''not a good sign''.

''New Zealand needs to take some leadership here, from the bottom of the world - we need some real leadership.''

New Zealand had shown that leadership on nuclear issues.

And a few countries, including Germany, were already taking such a role over climate change issues.

He was glad to be back in Dunedin, having earlier visited the city about four years ago, when he enjoyed viewing wildlife on the Otago Peninsula, including yellow-eyed penguins coming ashore.

He had met Jinty MacTavish, a ''great'' young environmental activist, on his earlier visit and he was pleased she had since been elected to the Dunedin City Council.

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