WELLINGTON (AFP) - New Zealand pledged Monday (Oct 18) to quadruple foreign aid spending on climate change, addressing its "woefully inadequate" response to the challenge in recent decades.
As representatives from around the world prepare for a landmark United Nations summit on global warming, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wellington would lift its climate aid budget to US$930 million (S$1.2 billion) over four years.
Ms Ardern said at least half the money would go to Pacific island nations, many of which are low-lying and face being swamped by rising seas.
"We need to continue to step up our support for our Pacific family and neighbours who are on the front line of climate change and need our support most," she said in a statement.
Ms Ardern said the money would help communities withstand damaging storm surges, rising seas and increasing extreme weather that brought flooding and drought.
New Zealand's existing climate aid budget is rated "critically insufficient" by monitoring website Climate Action Tracker, with the country's overall response to global warming listed as "highly insufficient".
The increased funds from 2022-25 will make New Zealand's per capita contribution to global climate finance equal to Britain's.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw said comparatively wealthy countries such as New Zealand had a duty to help vulnerable nations prepare for climate change.
"Our history over the last 30 years has been woefully inadequate when it comes to the scale of the challenge," he told Radio New Zealand.
"What that's left us with now is only a few years remaining to dramatically reduce the greenhouse gases that we put into the atmosphere." Ms Ardern has described climate change as a generation-defining issue and Mr Shaw said her government had introduced a strong suite of policies over the past four years.
"I think we can put our record of what we're doing on the ground up there with pretty much any other country," he said. "However, we were very late to get started."