James Shaw defends COP26 climate change trip to Glasgow
Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. Climate Change Minister James Shaw. Photo / Mark Mitchell Climate Change Minister James Shaw has had enough of the criticism over his upcoming trip to Glasgow. Shaw will attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) next month, with a team of 15. The Country's Jamie Mackay suggested Shaw was taking "a rugby team" to the conference and questioned whether he needed that many people, especially with Kiwis waiting for valuable MIQ spaces. Shaw disagreed, saying New Zealand had been sending "actual rugby teams" overseas. He was unhappy with the comparison. "I have been feeling a little bit annoyed about some of the stick that I've been getting on this." He was also tired of MIQ criticism. "No one complains particularly when Simon Bridges was arguing for an MIQ extension for The Wiggles. "Apparently The Wiggles are more important than a liveable atmosphere." Trade Minister Damien O'Connor recently returned from a two-week trip to the US and EU for trade talks with a staff of two. Mackay suggested 15 was "probably a bit too many" in comparison. COP26 was a completely different situation, Shaw said. "That's not the nature of these negotiations. Damien goes and negotiates essentially country by country ... the nature of COP26 is there are about 30 different parallel steps of negotiations going on and of course, we only have coverage for about half of that." By comparison, Fiji was sending around 50 negotiators "because they actually see climate change as an existential threat," Shaw said. "So they take it more seriously than we do. Ultimately that's because they're feeling the effects of it in ways that we aren't." Listen below: Mackay asked if Shaw was being "a wee bit alarmist" with his statements. He referred to an interview on The AM Show when Shaw said to host Ryan Bridges, "what you're saying is making money is more important than a breathable atmosphere?" Shaw disagreed. "If he's going to dish it out to the Climate Change Minister for taking up MIQ spots, why isn't he dishing it out to the Trade Minister for taking MIQ spots? "They said that's because it's trade and that's clearly more important. So that just shows the sort of priorities there." New Zealand was in a "climate crisis" and the time to act was now, Shaw said. "If you talk to the people of Westport about the effects of climate change, if you talk to the people who lived around the fires in Nelson ... if you talk to the farmers experiencing ever-increasing drought...then you know this thing is upon us." "It's not happening to in the future somewhere else to somebody else - it's not about polar bears in the arctic anymore - it's about us." Also in today's interview: Shaw defended the Government's Three Waters programme, saying the "status quo is dire". Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. Phil Duncan, Finn Ross, Corina Jordan and Matt Holden.