"Now it's time for us all to act!"
That was the call by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the virtual Leaders' Summit on Climate hosted by the United States President Joe Biden overnight.
The summit, held for Earth Day, brought world leaders together to galvanise efforts to reduce emissions this decade and keep the shared goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels within reach.
Ardern said, globally, fossil fuel subsidies total around US$500 billion a year. "This is five times our annual climate finance goal of US$100 billion a year."
Fossil fuels are made up of coal, oil or natural gas. She said Oil Change International defined a fossil fuel subsidy as any government action that lowered the cost of fossil fuel energy production, raised the price received by energy producers, or lowered the price paid by energy consumer.
And, according to New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade, fossil fuel subsidies work against international efforts to limit climate change.
"Imagine what diverting trillions of mobilised finance could do to help us achieve our collective goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels," Ardern said.
According to National Geographic, glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, cloud forests are dying, and wildlife are scrambling to keep pace due to global warming. And by 2050, sea levels are predicted to rise between 0.48cm to 70.10cm as glaciers melt.
NZ takes lead
New Zealand was asked to participate in the climate finance session of the summit as a leader in this field: in pricing carbon through our emissions trading scheme; the introduction of mandatory climate-related financial disclosures; and our decades-long work to end fossil fuel subsidies.
Adern used the summit to call on others to follow New Zealand's lead.
She said, "It is time for us to stop imagining and to do what is needed. He waka eke noa (We are in this together)."