National leader Bill English has flatly denied putting New Zealand's economic growth ahead of the environment.
An OECD report presented in Wellington earlier this year by environment director Simon Upston revealed the model for New Zealand's growth was largely based on exploiting natural resources and that environmental limits were beginning to show.
Asked directly on Q&A on Sunday if he'd sacrificed the environment for economic growth, Mr English denied that was the case.
"It looks different from Paris doens't it than when you're living here making a living as a high-value food producer," he said.
"We are smart enough in New Zealand to be able to maintain our position as a high-value food producers with all the clean green food brand and lift our environmental standards."
Mr English said exports were diversifying and would do more so in the agritech area as technology solutions for climate change and emissions progressed.
He said National talked about that "all the time" but the campaign had been focused on Labour's "messy policy" on tax.