Nov 12, 2021 03:53 PM

Caixin Summit: New Zealand’s Leader Calls for End to ‘Environmentally Harmful’ Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Asia-Pacific

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called on Asia-Pacific leaders to join hands on eliminating “environmentally harmful” subsidies for fossil fuel industries, in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for “a climate resilient future.”

Ardern made the appeal in a video speech at an annual Caixin Summit Friday, saying that “using public money to intensify the production and use of fossil fuels works against international efforts to mitigate climate change.”

The prime minister’s remarks come as world leaders and climate negotiators have been gathering at a two-week U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, trying to flesh out an action plan on implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, which is designed to limit the average global temperature increase to well below 2 C above pre-industrial levels and keep the earth from slipping into an irreversible global warming catastrophe.

Ardern, whose country serves as the chair of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) this year, said during the summit: “One of the most practical actions APEC members can take is to reform and eliminate environmentally harmful fossil fuel subsidies.”

As a step toward their elimination, Ardern continued, APEC member economies should first halt the increase of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

“As a region that makes up 60% of global GDP, we can also make up 60% of global emissions,” she said, adding that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies will be a “tangible” and “intergenerational” step the region can take to reduce emissions.

Ardern also praised APEC members for rejecting protectionism this year, ensuring their responses to the pandemic “are pulling in the same direction.”

“Throughout the pandemic, New Zealand works closely with other APEC economies to keep markets open,” she said. “We work to maintain trade and essential goods by suspending tariffs on medical and personal protective equipment-related goods.”

Asian economies also “cleanly rejected vaccine nationalism with a collective understanding that no one is safe until everyone is safe,” she said. All members backed actions to make access to vaccines faster and easier, making sure no export restrictions on vaccine-related goods are introduced, she noted.

In September 2017, Ardern led her Labour Party to victory in the general election and became New Zealand’s 40th prime minister the following month. The Ardern government has since maintained a close relationship with Beijing.

In early 2019, she made her first trip to China as prime minister and met President Xi Jinping. After the meeting, Xi said that China-New Zealand relations “have become one of the closest between China and Western developed countries.”

On Friday, Xi had a phone conversation with Ardern, saying that China and New Zealand should safeguard and practice true multilateralism, and work together to promote regional economic integration, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Noting that next year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Xi said the two sides should summarize successful experiences, strengthen strategic communication, and not allow a cloud to block their view.

New Zealand has also been supportive to China’s ambition to join two regional trade agreements ― the 11-member Comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement ― both of which New Zealand is a member. Ardern reportedly said recently that China should be allowed to join the CPTPP as Beijing met the minimum requirements.

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua ( editor Michael Bellart (

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