New Zealand has made climate change commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Convention) and the Kyoto Protocol.

Our current emission reduction targets are:

  • a provisional target to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030
  • an unconditional target to reduce our emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2020
  • a conditional target to reduce New Zealand’s emissions to between 10% and 20% below our 1990 levels by 2020.

Timeline of New Zealand’s targets

2015

In July 2015, New Zealand announced an ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 (external link).  The target is equivalent to an 11 percent decrease below 1990 levels and represents a significant progression on our target for the period to 2020 (which was -5 percent). This builds on our current target and signals another step towards New Zealand’s long-term target of 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

It will remain a provisional target until there is greater certainty about land sector accounting rules and New Zealand’s ability to access international carbon markets.

2013      

New Zealand announced an unconditional target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below our 1990 emissions by 2020. This target progresses our obligations under the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (to cap emissions at 1990 levels). It is managed using the framework of rules applicable to the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period 2013–2020.

The New Zealand Government’s media release (external link) explains this position. 

2011      

At the Durban conference New Zealand pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 50% below their 1990 levels by 2050.

2010      

New Zealand made a voluntary pledge at Cancun to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The Cancun voluntary pledge is outside the Kyoto Protocol. Ninety countries have made voluntary pledges — these countries are responsible for more than 80% of global emissions and make up 90% of the global economy. 

New Zealand pledged a conditional target of reducing emissions by between 10 and 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, in the context of a comprehensive global agreement. Our pledge has five specified conditions:

  • the global agreement sets the world on a pathway to limit temperature rise to not more than 2°C
  • developed countries make comparable efforts to those of New Zealand
  • advanced and major emitting developing countries take action fully commensurate with their respective capabilities
  • there is an effective set of rules for land use, land-use change and forestry
  • there is full recourse to a broad and efficient international carbon market.

This target range remains on the table and New Zealand is prepared to consider further targets if these conditions are fully met.

Read more about the Cancun Agreements (external link)

2009      

At the Copenhagen conference New Zealand made a commitment to funding Fast-Start Finance for developing countries. 

Read more about our commitments to developing countries

1997      

New Zealand signed the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol committed participating developed countries to individual, legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over a first commitment period of 2008 to 2012, or take responsibility for any emissions over these levels.

Find out more about the Kyoto Protocol

1992      

New Zealand signed the Convention and committed to undertake voluntary actions to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.

Read more about the Convention

Our achievements

  • New Zealand has met its previous target under the Kyoto Protocol. We’re on track to meeting our current target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2020.
  • We’ve delivered on our Fast-Start Finance commitment that helped developing countries to reduce emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. New Zealand provided NZ$90 million in grant funding over the three year fast-start period.
  • We’ve funded a range of climate change initiatives under the New Zealand Aid Programme, and helped our Pacific Island neighbours to meet their future energy needs through sustainable sources. For example, we funded a project that helped Tokelau move to more than 90% renewable energy use.
  • We’ve met all reporting (external link) requirements on our commitments to the Convention.
  • We have hosted a range of multinational climate change meetings. For example in 2012 we co-hosted the Pacific Energy Summit where donors and the private sector pledged more than $NZ630 million toward putting Pacific Island climate change projects into action
  • We have hosted four Blue Skies Informal Dialogues on the future climate change agreement. These discussions complement the Convention process by helping to generate innovative thinking and identify viable solutions.