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Minister blasts damning environment report

Published: 3:04PM Sunday June 24, 2012 Source: ONE News

Environment Minister Amy Adams has criticised a World Wildlife report lamenting New Zealand's commitment to environmental initiatives as one-sided, out-dated and wrong.

The World Wildlife Fund report, Beyond Rio, has slated successive governments for failing the environment since the original Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and says New Zealand now risks some of the highest rates of biodiversity loss on Earth unless urgent action is taken.

Speaking from the 2012 Rio+20 summit in Brazil, the Minister said the information used to compile the report was out-dated and wrong, and New Zealand remains a front-runner in paving an environmental sustainability future. 

"The number of times New Zealand has received accolades here for the work we've done with our fisheries system, with our management of natural resources and with our emissions trading scheme, which let's not forget is the first in the world - anywhere in the world - to cover all sectors and all gases.

"That's a tremendous achievement.  Yes, we have had an increase in emissions, but actually considerably less than the rest of the world has seen, and over a time of significant population growth."

Another damming environment report - Pure Advantage - has also drawn attention to New Zealand's dwindling environmental record and increasing CO2 emissions per capita.

New Zealand slipped from number 1 in 2006 to 14th, on the Yale University's environmental performance index.

But the minister said the government was committed to developing New Zealand's economy through sustainable development in the dairy farming and oil and gas sectors.

"Well, if we want to have growth, we need to see more opportunities developed, and I make no apology for that, but what we do want to see is that done in a way that's sustainable," said Adams.

"Right now, roads are how we get our goods around the country; they're how we get our goods to market.  They're a necessary part of our environment and our economy."

However, Green Campaigner Lucy Lawless has criticised the Minister for failing to commit to lasting sustainability.

The actress joined the celebrity contingent - including Jude Law and Penelope Cruz - at the Rio+20 summit where she campaigned on turning the High Arctic into a global sanctuary.

She criticised the minister for actively urging other countries to cut fossil fuel subsidies at the summit despite the government's commitment to mineral exploration. 

"The department was called the Crown Minerals Department, and they renamed it the Crown Petroleum and Minerals Department and spent, I don't know how many, tens of millions of dollars wooing overseas oil-drilling companies to come down here where we have no regulation to speak of," said Lawless.

"So I don't understand.  That seems like a little bit of a disconnect to me"

She said the Government need to shift their focus from dwindling mineral resources to green-based energy. 

"How can a dwindling resource be a growth industry," said Lawless. 

"The future is all going to be in renewables.  I know Pure Advantage estimated that there's a $6 trillion clean-energy race out there for technology and know- products, so let's be part of that."

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