Fossil of The Day 3 December New Zealand, Japan, USA,

3 December 2023

3 December                                    

Dubai, UAE

Contact: Muhammed Saidykhan, Head of Building Power, Climate Action Network International 

Communications: Dara Snead, / +447917583349

About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (, members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their ‘best’ to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

Every day at 18:00 local time you can watch the Fossil ceremony at B4 Al Wasl Ave. near Rove Hotel

Fossil of the Day Award: New Zealand’s U-tun on the way to a liveable future

Did New Zealand not read the road signs to COP28??? No u-turns on the way to a healthy planet. 

New Zealand had been saying all the right things, listening to Indigenous voices, and championing a global phase-out of fossil fuels. But with a new government in the driver’s seat, they seem to have swerved off course and are undermining the Indigenous People-led struggle by announcing plans to reopen Aotearoa waters to oil and gas exploration. In doing so, they have the dishonour of winning the first ‘Fossil of the Day’ award at COP28. 

Does Climate Change Minister Simon Watts not hear the climate alarm bells ringing? He may underestimate the devastating climate consequences of this decision but we, and their Pacific island neighbours in Palau, who slammed his intentions as ‘TRAGIC’, certainly do not.

Minister Watts may be new to his role but we remember the decade-long campaign led by Indigenous Māori communities who succeeded in achieving a ban on oil and gas exploration in New Zealand’s oceans. Not only does Watts and the rest of the New Zealand government want to remove the country’s legacy of climate leadership but they also seek to redefine legislative interpretation of the country’s founding Treaty with Māori communities, to reassess Treaty-based policies, and to roll back official use of Māori language – undoing the progress made between Māori and government relationships. 

Aotearoa New Zealand, as tangata moana (ocean people), has a responsibility to make sure decisions are in the best interests of their neighbours and should not ignore the calls from those at immediate risk of sea level rise to line the pockets of fossil fuel companies. We will not let you silence Indigenous voices. Let’s be clear, expect criticism; we have no time to waste in securing a liveable future.

Japan Greenwashing Tactic

Not satisfied with receiving a Fossil last year as world leaders in providing public finance for fossil fuels, Japan is back with another strong showing as a runner-up on today’s podium. They want to appear greener than green with two initiatives that they claim “contribute to global decarbonization” according to Prime Minister Kishida, but we see straight through their attempts to extend the life of coal and gas domestically and throughout Asia.

It’s clear that this is nothing more than greenwashing of hydrogen and ammonia co-firing with fossil fuels, which would keep thermal power plants running far into the future. This fails to meaningfully reduce emissions, jeopardises the decarbonization of Japan’s energy and any possibility of phasing out fossil fuels. 

Japan’s Prime Minister has been making a sales pitch through the Asia Zero Emissions Community (AZEC) initiative for Southeast Asia to keep their coal and gas plants running using the hydrogen and ammonia co-firing technology. This push to lock in fossil fuel-based energy across the continent is delaying the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, adding hurdles to achieving the global goal of tripling renewables. 

US’s Misplaced Finance

Unsurprisingly we have a bone to pick with the US, they earn a runners-up spot for their priorities when it comes to climate FINANCE. 

The US, aka the ‘Belligerent Burden Shirker’, comes third due to its abysmal pledge of $17.5 million to the Loss and Damage Fund… we think the US might have confused million with billion… a mere pittance from the largest historical emitter. The US prioritises fueling conflict over climate, through excessive military spending and tripling its nuclear energy capacity by 2050, rather than funding relief for unavoidable climate impacts. 

As it allocates $100 billion to wars, this paltry contribution to help heal climate wounds is the height of hypocrisy. From islands sinking under rising seas to families retreating from advancing deserts, this nominal Loss and Damage donation in the face of an expanding price tag for the US military global misadventures adds a particularly hurtful quality to the injustice. We award this fossil for the US to look in the mirror and reflect on its allocation of funds. 



Muhammed Saidykhan, Head of Building Power, Climate Action Network International 

Communications: Dara Snead, / +447917583349

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 1,300 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 120 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.  

Support CAN

Help us build power in the climate movement by contributing a one-time or recurring donation that will go to supporting our global work as well as various activities and campaigns in communities in different regions.

Donate to CAN

Stay informed

Subscribe to receive monthly updates on the latest on the climate movement including the content from across the network, upcoming climate change events, news articles and opinion pieces on climate, straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter