New Zealand is committed to combatting climate change. MFAT leads our international response to climate change through multilateral negotiations, our foreign policy and trade, and climate-related support.

Our role

We lead New Zealand's team of negotiators. The team meets regularly with counterparts from other countries to negotiate, and to discuss how to best implement the:

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Convention)
  • Kyoto Protocol (the Protocol)
  • Paris Agreement

The Convention is the major foundation global treaty that deals with climate change.

Our negotiating team is made up of experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as from New Zealand’s:

  • Ministry for the Environment,
  • Ministry for Primary Industries,
  • and other government agencies.

We follow a negotiation strategy that is based on our unique national interests, and is agreed with the Minister for Climate Change.

What MFAT negotiators do

We represent New Zealand in the governance and decision making of the Convention, Protocol, and Paris Agreement, ensuring our interests are protected, because these agreements have an impact on our environment, trade and economy. Our work includes: 

  • attending Convention meetings and speaking on issues being decided
  • making submissions to the Convention and at other related forums
  • lobbying other countries

Negotiation principles and goals

  • We seek an outcome from the Paris Agreement work programme that respects both the letter and spirit of the outcome reached in Paris, as reflected in the Paris Agreement and COP decision 1/CP.21. All countries, both developed and developing, need to make legal commitments to reduce emissions. Together we need to work toward limiting global warming to a rise of 2 degrees above industrial levels. If we don’t do this, the costs of responding to climate change, eg building new and better infrastructure, recovering from cyclones and adapting to water shortages, will be much greater.
  • We seek to ensure that implementation of the Paris Agreement is founded on a rule-set applicable to all Parties in common while allowing sufficient flexibility to accommodate the different national circumstances and individual capabilities of all Parties.
  • We seek to ensure the rule-set for the Paris Agreement delivers an efficient and effective global ambition mechanism, which includes the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue and the five-yearly Global Stocktakes starting from 2023. We believe all countries need to provide transparent, accurate and regular national greenhouse gas inventories. These are the building blocks of effective action against climate change. New Zealand is recognised for the quality of our reporting and the calibre of experts we provide for the international review process. 
  • We support an efficient and accessible global carbon market underpinned by environmental integrity. While our priority is driving our transition to a low emissions future and achieving a significant amount of our target through reductions at home, having access to international carbon markets ensures that we will still meet our target and make a fair and ambitious contribution to the global effort even if our domestic reductions fall short.

Our international climate change negotiation mandate for 2018

Read the Cabinet paper approving the negotiating mandate [PDF, 2.2 MB].

Summary of feedback from consultation

From 14 March to 3 April 2018 MFAT consulted on New Zealand’s UNFCCC negotiating priorities for the year. We received 34 oral and written submissions.

Broadly, submitters want to see the following issues addressed:

  • Ambition Cycle/Global Stocktake: Respondents want to ensure that the processes for countries to continually ratchet up their ambition under the Paris Agreement enshrine environmental integrity, and are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.    
  • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): Most submitters saw NDCs as a priority, and want them supported by rigorous transparency guidelines. Some urged resisting separate reporting systems for developed and developing countries, with any differentiation limited to factors like economy size or percentage of global emissions. Submitters don’t want to see backsliding on NDCs, and want us to encourage countries to strive for economy-wide targets. Some seek international agreement on global standards for measuring sequestration by carbon capture and storage.
  • Carbon Markets: Many want an international carbon price, and say emissions trading schemes should have clearly-defined industry coverage. Several respondents advocated for direct access to efficient carbon markets for consumers and business. Others felt afforestation should be incentivised through markets, but without diluting agreed land-use accounting rules.  
  • Transparency: Respondents generally put a high priority on transparency, including for carbon markets and offset arrangements. Submitters want the transparency framework to ensure NDCs and national inventories are rigorous and clearly reported (so they are accessible to third parties), and want all countries to provide progress reports that will be subject to independent expert review.
  • Agriculture: Many emphasised the need to ensure agriculture is included in NDCs and/or the Paris Agreement negotiations. Some considered the vulnerability of individual countries should be as much of a consideration as their action to reduce emissions. Several respondents want outcomes that recognise the efforts of our agriculture sector to reduce emissions, including through international collaboration on research.   
  • Climate Finance: Some submitters argued that climate resilience and adaptation should be a focus of New Zealand’s climate finance, and there should be robust accounting standards for climate finance, in light of UNFCCC obligations. Several emphasised the Paris guidelines should ensure climate finance reaches the most vulnerable, and effectively addresses the loss and damage due to climate change.  
  • Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP), and Gender Action Plan: Submitters widely supported participation in the LCIPP, and enhanced indigenous perspectives in the negotiations. Several respondents linked this platform and the Gender Action Plan to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • New Zealand National Approaches to Negotiations: A number of submissions touched on tactical considerations in the negotiations, which officials will consider as New Zealand’s negotiating strategy is further developed and refined.

 

Talanoa – join the dialogue

Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to convey the idea of inclusive and open dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, ideas and skills – to build empathy and motivation to make wise decisions for the collective good.

At its presidency of COP23 Fiji introduced the concept of Talanoa as a way of assessing and promoting global progress towards the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of reducing emissions to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – and, if possible, to 1.5 degrees. The Talanoa Dialogue will take place throughout 2018.

We already know that, despite almost every nation on Earth committing to the Paris Agreement, our combined current nationally determined contributions (or targets) are not enough to get us there yet. So, in the context of the international climate negotiations, Talanoa aims to help countries boost their ambition in setting and updating their emissions reduction goals. This is because Talanoa enables participants to build trust and knowledge. Talanoa rejects criticism and blaming others. Instead, it fosters inclusiveness and stability. Talanoa engenders empathy and mutual respect, creating a way forward for making decisions for a greater good.

Fiji has framed this year’s Talanoa Dialogue around three key questions on climate action:

  • Where are we?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • How do we get there?

How to take part in the Talanoa Dialogue

The UNFCCC’s outgoing and incoming conference presidencies – Fiji and Poland – are inviting countries and non-state actors to share their stories on climate action. They’re also encouraging national conversations and regional Talanoa over the coming months. The stories and themes that come out of this, and submissions throughout the year, will shape a global political-level Talanoa planned for COP24 in December 2018.

The presidencies describe the Talanoa approach and provide more detailed questions and templates for each of the three key questions on the UNFCCC Talanoa Dialogue Portal (external link).

We encourage New Zealanders to make submissions to the Talanoa Dialogue through the portal. You can do so as individuals, groups or organisations, and full information on how to make a submission is on the portal. The Ministry is also interested in your thoughts and submissions so please send us a copy also (feedback@mfat.govt.nz). Your views will inform our engagement with the Talanoa Dialogue up until COP24 in December.

Zero Carbon Bill consultation

The Government has opened consultations on a Zero Carbon Bill for New Zealand. The Bill will provide a vision for how we transition to a sustainable and climate resilient future. It will see New Zealand put a bold new 2050 emissions reduction target into law, and establish an independent Climate Change Commission to keep us on track to meet our goals. Consultation on the Zero Carbon Bill will be open until 19 July.  To join the conversation, visit the Ministry of the Environment's consultation page (external link).