United Nations General Assembly: Delivering Climate Action: for People, Planet & Prosperity

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

New Zealand Statement delivered by Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, 26 October 2021.

Kia ora koutou katoa,

Thank you for the opportunity to address this High-Level Meeting, and thank you in particular to the President of the General Assembly for bringing us together today to focus on climate action.

This is, as you have highlighted, a critical turning point for our global community. 

We face complex challenges that demand urgent and sustained response – our countries are caught up in the management of a pandemic, while also addressing a climate emergency.

You have asked us to contribute what we can – with a focus on how we can combine our strengths to look after our people and our planet to provide a stable future.

That’s what I bring here today from the South Pacific – a pledge, and also a plea.

New Zealand is, first and foremost, a Pacific country.

Our Pacific family and neighbours are on the front line of climate change. They are facing debilitating climate challenges, on top of the sharp demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is an acute and immediate need for support: to help build clean energy projects, ensure buildings are able to withstand more damaging storms, crops are resilient to droughts, floods and new pests, and communities are protected from sea level rise and storm surges.

This is why Aotearoa New Zealand has stepped up.

On 17 October our government announced a four-fold increase in our climate finance, committing $1.3 billion dollars over four years – with at least 50 percent of that grants-based funding going to the Pacific to support adaption.

We are determined to do our fair share globally.

As well as financial support, New Zealand has a portfolio of experience and expertise to offer our international community.

We stand ready to share our practical experience by partnering with others to help them future-proof their infrastructure, ecosystems and livelihoods.

We have our domestic experience to offer too, as we build a just transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient economy. This is an approach underpinned by science, by independent advice from our Climate Change Commission, and a commitment to partnership with Māori.

Our climate change legislation has at its bedrock the target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, and we are committed to a 2050 target based on IPCC pathways consistent with that goal.

We know, as does every country represented here, collectively we have not done enough yet. The IPCC Sixth Assessment report starkly emphasises the inadequacy of global efforts so far.

So I am glad to tell you our government is also this month, before COP26, revising our Nationally Determined Contribution, to ensure we continue to contribute our fair share of the global response to climate change.

We are also building our first emissions reduction plan, which will also serve as our long-term low emissions development strategy. Our plan will be in place by May 2022.

None of it is easily won. But it is hugely necessary for all of our governments to work with determination and ambition.

And it is necessary to work outside the boundaries of our borders, with each other.

New Zealand is using every opportunity to build a shared approach in areas of critical importance: ending fossil fuel subsidies, shifting finance away from environmentally harmful forms, and building climate actions into trade arrangements.

Our efforts within countries and together to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic must be used as an opportunity to accelerate clean and sustainable transformation.

Right now as the chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Community, I am calling on the leaders of Asia Pacific to demonstrate unity in championing a climate resilient future. 

New Zealand is also leading the delivery of a joint Ministerial statement on fossil fuel subsidy reform at the 12th Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation, directly after COP26.

These are examples where we can make differences that are bigger than the sum of our parts, turning government attention and budgets towards building resilience that will last the distance.

As we approach the Glasgow meeting, the world is watching to see how our countries will rise to this challenge.

We need to lift our ambition, and we need to build trust across our global community – that we will support the communities and countries that need help, while we all work to make a real difference.

There is no time to waste.

We have a chance to do what’s needed to make a safe future possible for our people, and especially for our world’s next generation, our children.

So let’s get on with it.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.


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