NZ commits to Paris climate change target

The Paris Agreement covers 90 percent of the world's emissions (Reuters)
The Paris Agreement covers 90 percent of the world's emissions (Reuters)

New Zealand has ratified the ground-breaking Paris Agreement on climate change - but the Green Party says this is just the beginning, not the end.

The agreement covers more than 90 percent of the world's emissions, with 188 countries taking part in the negotiations held in France in December last year.

New Zealand signed the document, which has the aim of keeping global temperature rise well below 2degC.

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett said the ratification demonstrated New Zealand's commitment to global action on climate change.

"Although New Zealand contributes only a small proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions, the early timing of our ratification enables us to join the group of countries that make up 55 percent of global emissions - the minimum needed to get this agreement across the line. Our contribution counts."

NZ commits to Paris climate change target

NZ UN representative Gerard Van Bohemen, left, with NZ's instrument of ratification (Supplied)

New Zealand has pledged to reduce emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Greens co-leader James Shaw says the party's pleased the Government has been so quick to sign up.

"However, the real challenge for the Government starts now: to reverse the massive rise in carbon emissions that has occurred in New Zealand over the past two decades.

"National needs a rethink of its economic strategy. Carbon emissions have increased 19 percent under National, and they're still talking about expanding pollution-intensive industries like oil, gas, and intensive dairy farming," he says.

In order to reach the country's goal, Mr Shaw says some "big changes" need to be made, including ending our reliance on imported fossil fuels and intensive farming.

Meanwhile, BusinessNZ says ratifying the agreement leaves New Zealand in a "good negotiating position" at the United Nations.

"It will be important that New Zealand has a voice at the negotiating table on the rules that matter to most to us - on agriculture, forestry and carbon markets," BusinessNZ environment policy manager John Carnegie says.

"New Zealand's emissions profile is different from most other countries, and we would not want to see international rules adopted that overlooked New Zealand's particular circumstances."