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Kiwis give smart lesson on climate transparency

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Cows are seen near the fence of a pastoral farm near Auckland August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Nigel Marple

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MELBOURNE, Oct 22 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Antipodean climate-change politics are on different paths. Australia has been distracted by the pantomime of whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison will attend the imminent Glasgow summit (he will) and whether he’ll lay out new emissions-reduction targets read more (probably not). New Zealand is offering more substance: Its parliament just mandated corporate disclosures on global warming.

It’s a world first that will force all financial firms read more in the country with more than NZ$1 billion ($719 million) in assets, and all listed companies with stocks and bonds, to disclose how the risks and opportunities presented by climate change will affect their operations. It has strong teeth: Directors of businesses failing to comply face up to five years in jail and a NZ$500,000 fine, about $360,000.

It’s a smart way to clue in executives and investors on how to better prepare for rising temperatures. That’s crucial in a state where methane-belching cattle generate 43% of its emissions and fossil fuels provide 60% of its energy. Other countries would do well to follow the Kiwis’ lead. (By Antony Currie)

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Editing by Una Galani and Katrina Hamlin

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