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United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The Convention is the major foundation global treaty that deals with climate change.
New Zealand is a party to the Convention, which provides a structure for negotiating climate change agreements. The Convention was signed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro – today more than 190 countries have joined. Convention parties and the various subsidiary groups meet regularly to discuss the implementation of the Convention, including:
- the implications of the latest scientific findings and technological developments
- opportunities for collective action and cooperation in reducing emissions
- ways to support countries to respond to climate change
- the provision of financial and technological support to help vulnerable countries that need to take action
The Convention holds an annual meeting called the Conference of the Parties (COP) which is its highest decision-making body. The Minister for Climate Change leads New Zealand's team of representatives at these meetings each year.
New Zealand, along with other Annex 1 Parties to the UNFCCC, produces regular reports which track progress towards meeting our commitments. Our Biennial Report highlights New Zealand’s climate-related support for developing countries. It also shows New Zealand is supporting low emissions agricultural development.
NZ submissions to UNFCCC
- Response measures(external link) April 2018
- Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture(external link) April 2018
- Talanoa Dialogue(external link) Phase 1 April 2018
- Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform(external link) April 2018
- New Zealand's NDC(external link) October 2016
A Convention body known as the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) was established to prepare for the Paris Agreement’s entry into force. The APA is tasked with developing the guidelines, procedures and processes that make up the 'rulebook' for the Paris Agreement. New Zealand's Climate Change Ambassador, Jo Tyndall, is a Co-Chair of the APA.
New Zealand's nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement was submitted in October 2015.
The UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol was agreed in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, after it became clear the existing provisions for emissions reduction in the Convention were inadequate. New Zealand is a party to the Kyoto Protocol.
First commitment period (CP1) 2008 to 2012
- the Kyoto Protocol committed participating developed countries to individual legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over a first commitment period of 2008 to 2012.
Second commitment period (CP2) 2013 to 2020
- at the 2012 United Nations climate change negotiations in Doha, parties agreed to a second commitment period to reduce greenhouse gas emissions collectively to at least 18% below 1990 levels in the eight year period from January 2013 to 2020
- 37 developed countries have signed up to targets in the second commitment period. New Zealand has chosen to make its climate change pledge for this period under the Convention track, rather than the Kyoto Protocol.
The Convention track
The Convention track is one of the Cancun Agreements under which countries made voluntary pledges to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. New Zealand has made pledges under the Convention track which, together with pledges from 90 other countries, cover 85% of global emissions.
Global Climate Action Agenda
New Zealand is a participant in the Global Climate Action Agenda (GCA), established at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco. To demonstrate an area of climate action in which we have particular expertise, we convened a side-event at COP23, Precision Technology for Agriculture Development, to highlight how precision farming tools and methods can reduce emissions, increase climate resilience, and improve productivity. New Zealand also engages with a range of initiatives as part of the GCA, including the Powering Past Coal Alliance, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the NDC Partnership, and the 2050 Pathways Platform Partnership.
Other international forums
Alongside the Convention and, New Zealand participates in a range of other climate change meetings and forums. These strengthen and complement the work of the Convention in limiting global climate change.
New Zealand-initiated forums
Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA)
In 2009 New Zealand initiated the alliance, which organises collaboration between institutions researching ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while producing more food. The alliance has now been joined by more than 40 countries.
Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (FFFSR)
In 2010 New Zealand initiated the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform Group. The Group supports G20 and APEC member countries in particular to reduce emissions by phasing out the USD$600 billion that's spent globally on fossil fuel subsidies each year. Removing these subsidies could lead to a 13% decline in global CO2 emissions. Current members of the Group are Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
Ministerial Declaration on Carbon Markets
At COP21 in 2015, New Zealand led the launch of a Ministerial Declaration on Carbon Markets to pledge environmental integrity in the use of carbon markets.
The Asia Pacific Carbon Markets Roundtable
This forum is a New Zealand-led initiative that brings together senior officials from countries and jurisdictions around the region in a closed but informal setting to discuss the development of carbon markets and how bilateral and regional carbon links could be made.
Other forums New Zealand participates in
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a United Nations organisation that assesses climate change by reviewing the scientific, technical and socio-economic information available worldwide. New Zealand scientists are actively involved in the work of the Panel both as panel members and as contributors of research papers.
Carbon Neutrality Coalition
The Carbon Neutrality Coalition brings together a committed group of 19 countries and 32 cities that have agreed to develop ambitious long-term strategies to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The Coalition's agreed Plan of Action(external link) was launched by Coalition co-champions, New Zealand and the Marshall Islands, in New York on 27 September 2018.
Climate and Clean Air Coalition to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (CCAC)
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is a voluntary partnership of 38 countries and 45 non-government and international organisations working to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. These pollutants include black carbon (soot), methane and some hydro-fluorocarbons. The combined contribution of these pollutants to climate change is projected to increase to as much as 19% of global CO2 emissions by 2050. New Zealand is a lead partner in the Coalition's Agriculture Initiative.
Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action
The Cartegena Dialogue is an informal group of around 30 countries that share a commitment to finding a comprehensive, ambitious and legally binding climate change agreement, and are committed to transforming their own economies to be low-carbon.
Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)
The Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions, based in the US, convenes regular informal discussions on options for the new climate change agreement. New Zealand is one of more than 20 countries that takes part.
Pacific Islands Forum (PIF)
The Pacific Islands Forum is a political grouping of 16 independent and self-governing states in the Pacific with which New Zealand works on a range of issues including climate change.
Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF)
The Ministry attends Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate meetings when invited. The Forum was launched in 2009 to facilitate candid discussions among major economies about climate change. The Forum aims to help generate the political leadership necessary to achieve successful outcomes in international climate change negotiations. It also advances practical climate change initiatives.
In 2017, New Zealand and China signed an agreement to work together on climate action through:
- international cooperation
- developing carbon markets
- research on agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation
- explore cooperation on promoting electric vehicles and charging infrastructure
New Zealand-hosted forums
Pacific Energy Summit
New Zealand and the European Union co-hosted the 2013 Pacific Energy Summit that provided a forum for leaders from Pacific Island countries to present their energy plans and targets. Donors and the private sector pledged more than NZ$630 million toward putting plans into action.