Paula Bennett
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett has signed the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change on behalf of New Zealand, at the United Nations in New York.

The Paris Agreement was concluded at the twenty-first Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) on 12 December 2015.

The agreement, signed on April 22, strengthens the global response to climate change and aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit increases to 1.5°C.

It ensures, for the first time, that all countries will now contribute to the global response on climate change on an equal legal footing.

The intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) pledged under the agreement cover countries responsible for 99 percent of global emissions.

Over 150 countries signed the Agreement in New York. The Paris Agreement will take effect once 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 per cent of global emissions, have ratified, acceded to, approved or accepted it.

Countries will continue to work together to flesh out the operational details of the agreement. Alongside this, New Zealand will complete the domestic processes required for ratification.

New Zealand's domestic processes include presenting the agreement and a national interest analysis to Parliament for examination by a select committee, after which the select committee tables a report in the House. After this, legislation may be passed and then New Zealand may ratify the Agreement.

The Government has announced an ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Our 2030 target (external link) is only the first one we'll take under the Agreement, because its five-yearly review ambition mechanism will see us continue to submit updated targets.

New Zealand is committed to doing our fair share as part of the global response to climate change. As a first step towards delivering on our intended target, we are reviewing the NZ emissions trading scheme, to ensure it is fit-for-purpose in light of our 2030 emissions reduction target.

New Zealand will also continue to be part of the international effort to provide and mobilise climate finance.

At the Paris COP, the Prime Minister announced our intention to contribute up to $200m in climate-related support over the next four years, mainly to Pacific Island countries.

Read more:

Climate change: What we do globally