Paris Agreement

Information on New Zealand’s post-2020 commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement.

Purpose of the Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is the new global agreement on climate change. It was adopted by Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 12 December 2015. It commits all countries to take action on climate change.

The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and will take effect from 2020. This means New Zealand’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), will apply from 2021. New Zealand’s NDC is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The purpose of the Paris Agreement is to:

  • keep the global average temperature well below 2° C above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5° C
  • strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change
  • make sure that financial flows support the development of low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.

The agreement provides a framework for the global response to climate change. Detailed rules, including the rules about the use of markets and the accounting for the land sector, will be negotiated from now until 2020. 

New Zealand ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016

Ratification is a formal step that countries must take to become full participants and to ensure the deal takes effect. New Zealand ratified the Paris Agreement on 4 October 2016 (New York time). 

New Zealand had earlier signed the Paris Agreement on 22 April 2016 at a ceremony in New York. The Government initiated the parliamentary process for ratifying the agreement on 17 August 2016. The Paris Agreement with the National Interest Analysis was presented to Parliament. A select committee considered the advantages and disadvantages of New Zealand joining the agreement. The select committee concluded that it is in New Zealand’s interests to ratify the Paris Agreement. 

On 4 October 2016, New Zealand helped make history by depositing its ‘instrument of ratification’ with the UN Secretary General and therefore agreeing to be bound by the terms of the agreement. The following day, the threshold for the agreement to enter into force was met (when 55 countries which are responsible for 55 per cent of global emissions had ratified the agreement). The agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, 30 days after the threshold was met.

By ratifying the agreement New Zealand commits to having an emissions reduction target and regularly updating it. 

Ratification also commits us to: 

  • continue to regularly report on our emissions and how we’re tracking towards meeting our target
  • continue to provide financial support to assist developing countries’ mitigation and adaptation efforts
  • plan for adaptation.