New Zealand is working alongside the international community to reach a coordinated, effective global response to climate change.

New Zealand is working alongside the international community to reach a coordinated, effective global response to climate change.

Together we're grappling with how best to address climate change in the future - the Kyoto Protocol doesn’t go far enough. Through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015 we concluded a new universal climate change agreement to apply from 2020. This is known as the Paris Agreement.


New Zealand is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which provides a structure for negotiating climate change agreements. The UNFCCC was signed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and today more than 190 countries have joined. UNFCCC parties and the various UNFCCC 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 UNFCCC holds an annual meeting called the Conference of the Parties (COP), which is the highest decision making body of the convention. The Minister for Climate Change leads New Zealand's team of representatives at these meetings each year. 

Find out more about the UNFCCC (external link) 

Paris Agreement

Jo Tyndall as APA co-chair
APA co-chairs Jo Tyndall (R) and Sarah Baashan

A UNFCCC body known as the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Advanced Action (ADP) developed a new agreement, which was adopted by the 21st Conference of Parties in Paris on 12 December 2015. The agreement is known as the Paris Agreement, and has legal force and applies to all parties. The agreement covers both developed and developing countries, and allows for different commitments for different circumstances.

New Zealand also used the Paris Conference to lead the launch of a Ministerial Declaration on Carbon Markets (external link).

New Zealand's intended nationally determined contribution to the Paris Agreement was tabled in July 2015.  See here for more information (external link)

More about our negotiation principles and goals

New Zealand’s submissions to the UNFCCC (external link) 

Kyoto Protocol

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.

2008 to 2012 - the first commitment period (CP1)
  • 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.
2013 to 2020 - the second commitment period (CP2)
  • 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.

Read more about the Kyoto Protocol (external link)

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.  

Read more about the Cancun Agreements (external link) 

Other international forums 

Alongside the UNFCCC, New Zealand participates in a range of other climate change meetings and forums. These strengthen and complement the work of the UNFCCC 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 reduce greenhouse gas emissions while producing more food. The alliance has now been joined by more than 40 countries. 

Global Research Alliance (external link)

Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (FFFSR)  

In 2010 New Zealand initiated the FFFSR 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 FFFSR are Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Read more about fossil fuel subsidy reform

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 IPCC 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 IPCC both as panel members and as contributors of research papers. 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (external link)

Climate and Clean Air Coalition to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (CCAC)

The CCAC 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.

Climate and Clean Air Coalition (external link) 

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.   

Cartagena Dialogue (external link) 

Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

The C2ES, 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.  

Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions (external link)

OECD Climate Change Experts Group (CCXG)

The CCXG is a joint OECD and International Energy Agency (IEA) meeting of government and non government experts to promote discussion and understanding of technical issues in the international climate change negotiations.

OECD Climate Change Experts Group (external link) 

Pacific Islands Forum (PIF)

The PIF 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. 

Pacific Islands Forum (external link)

Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF)

MFAT attends MEF meetings when invited. The MEF 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.

Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (external link) 

The Ny-Ålesund Symposium 2014

The annual Ny-Ålesund Symposium hosted by Norway explores issues that affect the Arctic and other northern regions. In 2014 the Symposium focused on climate change and New Zealand’s Climate Change Ambassador Jo Tyndall gave a keynote speech about how to overcome the stalemate on climate finance. 

Download the speech [PDF, 40 KB] 

The Ny-Ålesund Symposium 2014 (external link)

New Zealand-hosted forums

Pacific Energy Summit

New Zealand and the EU 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.

Pacific Energy Summit (external link)