The Paris Agreement

This page has information on New Zealand’s post-2020 commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement.

About 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 mitigation commitments (our Nationally Determined Contribution) will apply from 2021.

Its purpose is to:

  • keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2° C above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5° C, with an aim to reach peaking of global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and to reach net-zero emissions by the second half of the century.
  • enhance the ability of countries to adapt and reduce vulnerability to the adverse 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 those rules about the use of markets and the accounting for the land sector, will be negotiated from now until 2020. 

New Zealand submitted a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

For more information on the 2030 target see the New Zealand's 2030 climate change target web page.

See also:

New Zealand ratifies Paris Agreement

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 to New Zealand joining the agreement. The select committee concluded that it is 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.

The Government has announced it will set up a group of technical experts to look at what more New Zealand needs to do to adapt to climate change, and how our actions will affect our economy and society.  

See Paris Agreement, together with the National Interest Analysis [Parliamentary website]

Media release: NZ ratifies Paris Agreement on Climate Change [Beehive website]  

Find out more

See our web page on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Decision 1/CP.21 (Text of the Paris Agreement) [PDF, 430 KB]  [UNFCCC website]

Text of the convention [UNFCCC website]