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Aid boost could finance climate change projects in Pacific

The Green Party has welcomed the increase of New Zealand's overseas aid beyond what was projected in last year's Budget.

"What had been projected previously was a measly increase, from 0.27 percent to 0.28 percent of Gross National Income (GNI). It is now increasing to .30 percent, which puts us on a par with Australia," Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

"The Government is also promising to raise that ratio over the next four years to .35 percent by 2010/11.

"This is a victory both for the aid community and for those parties which have been putting pressure on the Government - namely the Greens, United Future and New Zealand First.

"The Greens have been part of the negotiations for an increase under our post-election agreement with Labour, which prescribed an increase in overseas aid.

"As Mr Peters says, half of the new funding will be spent in the Pacific. This is an opportunity for us to put more resources into sustainable energy projects in the region, and to ensure that development aid has a strong climate change dimension.

"The Greens welcome the concentration on Pacific aid, but want the content reviewed to take account of the challenge of global warming. We need to give extra help to small island communities to develop renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, and to reduce their dependence on oil fired power or diesel generators. We can also help more with their energy efficiency programmes.

"We still have a big challenge ahead to reach the agreed U.N international aid target of 0.7 percent of GNI by 2015. To reach that target, we will still need a 0.07 percent annual increase between 2010 and 2015 — which is twice the rate of increase announced in this Budget," Mr Locke says.

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