Rex Tillerson visiting next week – will they discuss the turtle in the room?


US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, will meet New Zealand’s Prime Minister Bill English and Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee in Wellington next Tuesday.

Brownlee says he welcomes the visit. He said the United States and New Zealand  “share a deep interest in maintaining peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific region”

The turtle in the room is climate change and how it might have an impact on the “peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific region.”

The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network says Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord signals his support for the fossil fuel industry which directly threatened people living in the Pacific islands.

Tillerson had supposedly been urging Trump not to do so. Shortly after he was confirmed as Secretary of State, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote to him about  climate change.

The US Bishops’ letter to Tillerson drew his attention to what Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical letter Laudato Si about climate change.

The Bishops said they thought Tillerson  appeared share the “nuanced understanding of climate change, expressed in the encyclical…” which they said  “creates space for reasonable people to recognise, without controversy, that the climate is changing and highlights the importance of adaptation in response.

“Adaptation policy is fundamentally concerned with helping God’s creatures and all human beings, especially those who are poor, to  to adapt to the effects of climate change, regardless of the causes …”

New Zealand aid in the coming year will go towards helping Pacific nations cope with and prepare for the negative effects of climate change.

The director for the Council for International Development, an umbrella body for non-government organisations in New Zealand, said this should not be the case as it is taking money away from existing overseas development initiatives.


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