New Zealand is committed to combating climate change. MFAT leads our international negotiations as we help find ways to respond to climate change and its effects.

MFAT’s role

Mark Sinclair New Zealand's Climate Change Ambassador
Mark Sinclair New Zealand's Climate Change Ambassador

MFAT's Climate Change Ambassador Mark Sinclair leads New Zealand's team of negotiators.  They meet regularly with their counterparts from other countries to negotiate the climate change agreement, and to discuss how to best implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol, and from 2016 the rules and guidelines for the implementation of the Paris Agreement when it enters into force. The UNFCCC is the major foundation global treaty that deals with climate change.

Our negotiating team is made up of experts from MFAT as well as from the New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries, the Treasury 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 Issues.

What MFAT negotiators do

We represent New Zealand in the governance and decision making of the UNFCCC, ensuring our interests are protected, especially when agreements have an impact on our environment, trade and economy. Our work includes: 

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

Negotiation principles and goals

We want the negotiations to deliver:

  • A legally binding agreement - We believe that an ambitious and effective global agreement is the first line of defence against climate change. 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.
  • Accessible carbon markets - We support an efficient global carbon market with environmental integrity to encourage broad participation in the new agreement.  The use of carbon markets is important to New Zealand as we have limited affordable options for significantly reducing our carbon footprint domestically.
  • Real incentives - We support a regime that provides incentives for all countries to achieve genuine emissions reductions without stifling growth.  
  • Better inventories – 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.