Climate change

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

We build international collaboration to encourage ambitious global climate action, support our domestic transition, share New Zealand’s climate change story and to ensure New Zealand is complying with our international obligations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) works closely with the Ministry for the Environment (MfE)(external link) – which is responsible for the whole-of-government coordination of New Zealand’s domestic climate change policies.

UNFCCC COP26, Glasgow (November 2021)

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC was postponed from December 2020 until 1–12 November 2021.

COP26 is a pivotal moment as the Paris Agreement passes the five year mark. The UK plans for the COP are grounded by thematic ‘campaigns’ on energy, transport, nature-based solutions, finance, and adaptation and mitigation. The four goals set are: to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach, adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilise finance, and work together on delivery, including the delivery of a completed Paris Rulebook – see more on the UKCOP26 website(external link).

Our international climate change negotiating mandate

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is seeking input on the outcomes New Zealand should seek at COP26 to support global implementation of the Paris Agreement and ambitious global action on climate change.

See the separate consultation page.

What does the current mandate say?

The Negotiations Mandate Update [CAB-19-MIN-0430] covers six 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 on 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.

Ulu-o-Tokelau Kerisiano Kalolo and New Zealand Climate Change Ambassador Kay Harrison.
Ulu-o-Tokelau Kerisiano Kalolo and New Zealand Climate Change Ambassador Kay Harrison at the opening plenary of COP25, held in Spain in December 2019. The New Zealand delegation included officials from MFAT, MfE and the Ministry for Primary Industries, officials from Tokelau, iwi, private sector representatives, and civil society.

Read New Zealand’s National Statement to COP25(external link).

Standing with the Pacific

New Zealand advocates for outcomes that support the interests of Pacific island countries, including by supporting the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, and fulfilling the declaration in the Kainaki II Declaration from the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum(external link) for leaders to support a dialogue on the oceans – climate change nexus within the UNFCCC process, while upholding existing international oceans frameworks.

We are also standing with the Pacific to ensure maritime zones and the important resource rights that come from them are secure against sea-level rise and climate change. In August 2021, the Pacific Islands Forum issued the Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate-change-related Sea-level-Rise(external link).

The Declaration sets out our region’s collective position on how the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’s rules on maritime zones should apply in the situation of climate-change-related sea-level rise, and makes clear our intention to maintain our zones, without reduction. This ground-breaking initiative will help safeguard a sovereign and resilient Pacific region.

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting.
Pacific Islands Forum leaders exchange views at virtual Leaders’ Meeting, 6 August 2021.

VAKA – a film on climate change in the Pacific

We are proud supporters of VAKA, an acclaimed documentary made by final year Massey University film students with support from the Government of Tokelau, Massey University, and MFAT. The 20-minute documentary screened at COP25 at the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion.

In 2021 VAKA earned multiple awards at international film festivals, after initial delays in distribution from COVID-19.

VAKA is a short documentary which shares the energy and creativity of the Tokelauan people, weaving stories of their customary wisdom regarding the environment with an exploration of the modern technologies they use in addressing the challenges of climate change. Tokelau was the first Pacific territory to aim to generate 100% of its electricity using solar panels, installed in a New Zealand-funded Renewable Energy Project in 2012. Tokelau produces a minimal amount of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet, like other coral atolls, it is among the first to be impacted by climate change. Tokelau's resilience in its day-to-day addressing of the impacts of climate change shows how the Tokelauans are leading by example.

New Zealand’s Multilateral Assessment

In June 2021 New Zealand presented our domestic climate action to the international community through the Multilateral Assessment. This is a process which supports transparency, enables Parties to discuss domestic action and progress towards meeting 2020 targets and promotes comparability of efforts among developed countries.

New Zealand received 20 written questions from Parties in advance of the meeting and answered 14 oral questions from 10 Parties. This was an opportunity for New Zealand to elaborate and expand on its policy initiatives and domestic climate change policy. New Zealand also asked questions of other Parties being multilaterally assessed.

For more information on our Multilateral Assessment, including the questions we were asked by other Parties and our answers, our presentation and a broadcast of the session, please visit the UNFCCC website(external link).


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