New Zealand is working with the rest of the world to combat climate change. This page provides information on current activities and initiatives.

UNFCCC COP25, Madrid (December 2019)

New Zealand will attend the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.  COP25 will now be held in Madrid, Spain from 2 - 13 December 2019.  Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Wednesday 30 October that Chile would no longer be able to host COP25 in Santiago. This would have been a very difficult decision to make considering the effort put into hosting these events, but we understand there are other pressing priorities for Chile.  Following the announcement, the Government of Spain extended the generous offer to hold COP25 in Madrid, with Chile remaining the COP Presidency.

We will update information here as it is confirmed.

Follow us on Twitter (external link) @ClimateEnvoy for regular updates on #COP25 and #NZatCOP25

COP25: Time for Action Kōrero

The New Zealand Climate Change Ambassador, Kay Harrison, with the support of Simpson Grierson held two kōrero on New Zealand’s international climate change priorities for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP25 conference (external link), being hosted in Madrid, Spain. Negotiators from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Ministry for the Environment joined the Ambassador to discuss three priorities for New Zealand at COP25:

Thank you to those that attended. We want to continue to hear your thoughts and views so we can take those into the negotiations with us.

To keep up to date with future events, register your interest to DM-CCD@mfat.govt.nz

Our international climate change 2019 negotiating mandate

Why did we need an updated mandate?

Our 2019 negotiation mandate reflects new priorities:

  • we have now set the objective of limiting global average temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius above pre‑industrial levels at the heart of New Zealand’s climate change policy;
  • negotiation of the Paris Agreement Rulebook is almost complete which leaves most of the existing mandate redundant;
  • there are new issues emerging that we must be able to engage in; 
  • Pacific island countries are on the front line of climate change and now more than ever is the time to stand with the Pacific region. 

Read full details in the Cabinet paper here. [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Thank you to our stakeholders for providing input into this process.

Who was consulted?

  • We sought views from iwi and stakeholders on what New Zealand should be promoting in the negotiating process. 
  • The main theme of the responses was recognition of the urgent need for ambitious climate action and broad support for the positions proposed.  We will continue to have, on an ongoing basis,  engagement with interested iwi and stakeholders on international climate change matters.
  • Ministry for the Environment, MBIE, Ministry of Transport, and Ministry for Primary Industries were all consulted. The Government of Tokelau was also consulted as Tokelau participates in the UNFCCC negotiations as part of the delegation of New Zealand. \

What does the mandate say?

The August 2019 Negotiations Mandate Update [CAB-19-MIN-0430] covers six addtional areas:

  1. General principles – provides general guidance about New Zealand’s approach;
  2. Loss and damage – elaborates on our position for addressing loss and damage caused by climate change, supporting the work of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage in fulfilling its mandate;
  3. Oceans – recognises the impacts of climate change on oceans, and the importance of oceans to Pacific Island countries; seeking meaningful action on oceans and climate change, while upholding existing international legal frameworks;
  4. International carbon markets – provides more detail on our support for guidelines for the use of carbon markets that promote environmental integrity; seeking to ensure the environmental integrity of international carbon markets;
  5. The future of the Kyoto Protocol – explicitly proposes to seek closure of the old regime once the Paris Agreement is fully operational; and
  6. Metrics – sets out a new mandate on how emissions from gases like methane are counted.

It also makes amendments to previous issues: including: advocating for outcomes that support the interests of Pacific island countries, supporting a 5-year timeframe for Nationally Determined Contributions; promoting transparency; mechanisms to promote compliance; an effective global stocktake; encouraging other countries to take action on agriculture; advocating for transparency and predictability of climate finance; ensuring a just transition; support for human and indigenous rights; and, the bounds of the negotiators mandate.

UN Climate Action Summit and Nature-Based Solutions

23 September 2019, New York

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres' Climate Action Summit in New York in September was held to boost ambition and accelerate action on climate change. New Zealand played a key role, co-leading one of the nine ‘action areas (external link)’ with China.

The UN Climate Action Summit called on countries to raise the global level of ambition to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to galvanise action to keep the 1.5°C temperature goal within reach.

It brought together national and local governments, private sector, civil society, and other international organisations to develop ambitious climate solutions across the nine action areas (external link). These include: a global transition to renewable energy; sustainable and resilient infrastructure and cities; sustainable agriculture and management of forests and oceans; resilience and adaptation to climate impacts; and, public and private sector investment in initiatives that contribute to a net zero global economy.

The action focus of the Summit means the initiatives highlighted need to be implementable, scalable and replicable and have the potential to get the world in line with the commitments of the Paris Agreement. 

Read about the Summit here (external link).

Nature-Based Solutions action area

“Nature is one of our most powerful, cost-effective and immediate solutions to the climate crisis. And when we give nature a chance, we have a better shot at improving livelihoods, building resilience and achieving the sustainable development goals. We simply cannot achieve a 1.5°C world without nature. “

Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme

New Zealand and China co-led the action area called ‘Nature-Based Solutions’. This looks at how natural systems and our interactions with them can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and support adaptation to climate change. It also considers co-benefits linked to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development (external link), such as poverty reduction, biodiversity, food security and health, and looks at strengthening the connection of people and communities to nature.

Read about the Nature-Based Solutions (external link) action area.

More than 40 countries representing over a third of the world’s population responded to a call from China and New Zealand to increase support for nature-based solutions. More than 200 existing nature-based initiatives from around the world were submitted as part of China and New Zealand’s call to action.

View some of them here (external link).

Collaborating to increase ambition

New Zealand joined five initiatives led by other coalitions that are designed to increase global climate change ambition across a range of areas relevant to New Zealand. These were:

  1. Climate actions that advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
  2. Advancing a Just Transition and the Creation of Green Jobs for All for Ambitious Climate Action
  3. Decarbonising Shipping: Getting to Zero Coalition
  4. Kwon Gesh Pledge (Pledge to Youth)
  5. A Call for Action: Raising Ambition for Climate Adaptation and Resilience

Along with the Pacific, New Zealand supported the Secretary-General’s call for removal of harmful fossil fuel subsidies (external link). We also welcomed six new members to the Carbon Neutrality Coalition (external link) that New Zealand co-champions with the Republic of the Marshall Islands to build ambitious long term strategies to achieve a carbon neutral world.

Abu Dhabi – Climate Meeting for the Summit

30 June - 1 July 2019

The meeting brought together governments and leaders from all sectors including business, local authorities, civil society, and the UN system, and youth representatives.  New Zealand was represented by senior officials from MFAT and Ministry for Primary Industries.

The central purpose of the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting was to take stock of progress so far across all the action areas of the Climate Action Summit, and identify and further develop proposals, based on the criteria established for initiatives.

Ministers and government officials, together with business and civil society leaders, also met in Abu Dhabi to prepare for the Climate Action Summit this September.

Read about the meeting here (external link)

Subject to Change – a film on climate change in the Pacific

We are proud supporters of Subject to Change, a documentary on climate change in New Zealand and the Pacific made by final year Massey University film students in 2018.

UNFCCC SB50 (June 2019)

The 50th session of the Subsidiary Bodies of Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC convened on 10–27 June 2019 in Bonn, Germany. The first meeting since the adoption of most of the Paris Agreement rulebook saw transition to implementation of those guidelines.

Read the New Zealand briefing for officials here.

Positive outcomes for New Zealand included agreement to hold an agriculture workshop in New  Zealand; improvement in quality of discussions on carbon markets, and some key compromises on markets rules since last year’s Katowice meeting.

Read the End of Meeting Report  and Technical Annex here [PDF, 6.5 MB].

UNFCCC COP24 (December 2018)

New Zealand negotiators, ministers and civil society delegates attended the milestone global climate summit in Katowice, Poland in December 2018, helping shape and finalise the Paris Agreement rulebook.

The Katowice Climate Package adopted at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP24) details how countries will implement the Paris Agreement effectively. New Zealand’s goal for the summit was largely achieved: the technical guidelines enable everyone to understand what each Party has committed to, and track individual progress towards national targets (called Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) as well as collective progress towards the Paris Agreement's goals.

Crucially, all countries will now be accountable for emissions reduction targets. They will be required to report on these, as well as other actions to address climate change, in a transparent manner.  The rulebook now details robust requirements for transparency, mitigation, adaptation and compliance. Countries will more clearly communicate the financial and technological support and capacity building they provide and mobilise. Developing countries will also have a platform to talk about the support they need and receive. The five-yearly global stocktake provides a vehicle for maintaining pressure on countries to implement increasingly ambitious emissions reduction targets and actions.

COP24 did not agree guidance for the use of international carbon markets under the Paris Agreement. New Zealand will continue to advocate for rules that ensure environmental integrity in carbon markets, so that they deliver real emissions reductions. We aim to get these adopted at COP25 in December 2019 in Chile.

The delivery of the Paris rulebook at COP24 is an important political signal that global momentum on climate action is irreversible.

New Zealand, together with four partner countries, held ‘Act!on Agriculture’, a series of seminars to bring about action on sustainable agriculture to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals.

Read MFAT's COP24 End of Meeting Report [PDF, 2.2 MB]

Our international climate change 2018 negotiating mandate

Read the Cabinet paper approving the negotiating mandate [PDF, 1.5 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 wanted 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 is 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.