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Does Key’s Antarctic trip boost his green credentials?

Monday 21 Jan 2013 9:33 a.m.

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Bad weather has stymied John Key's wish to visit the South Pole.

Instead, he had to settle for a seven-hour helicopter ride around Antarctica's Mt Erebus and Cape Royds with his wife, Bronagh.

"It was pretty much out of the question from day one," 3 News reporter Samantha Hayes told Firstline this morning.

"[The helicopter ride] was certainly entertaining for him, he said it was tremendous, but the South Pole trip did seem to be a priority.

"He said it was a box he wanted to tick, probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but he'll have to go home without having achieved that."

It's not all bad news for the Prime Minister however, who almost didn't make it after fainting in a Christchurch restaurant on the eve of the trip. Ms Hayes says his green credentials have been given a boost.

"Sometimes he does sound a little bit like he was just parroting research projects that he's been briefed on down here. He does have a lot of respect for those projects mind you, but look – he hasn't announced any new policy, or specific funding or projects, but he has said that more money is needed to investigate climate change.

"The thing about Key is he totally accepts that climate change is happening and that it is caused by humans… and he said he's happy to put more money into specific projects."

One of those is the Andrill project, a joint operation with the United States, Germany and Italy.

"It made fundamental discoveries about what will happen should the west Antarctic ice sheet melt, how it will respond to global warming," says Ms Hayes.

"The US funded half of the first part… but without some kind of resolution, phase two has stalled because the US doesn't see why it should have to pay more than half when there are four countries involved.

"Mr Key did say earlier on his trip he's happy to put in more money if the Americans come back – his last offer was bout 12.5 percent… but he hasn't specified how much, and scientists down here say he pretty much needs to double that offer, or the project will remain stalled."

Mr Key yesterday announced on the weekend the Government will set a target within the next six months for slashing carbon emissions.

3 News

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