Simon Bridges says he would have raised climate change with Donald Trump - even though he doesn't think it's an emergency.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern went to New York for the UN Climate Action Summit, where she met with world leaders including the US President. But the focus for her meeting with Trump was trade, not climate change.
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Appearing on The Hui on Sunday, Bridges revealed what he would have said if he had that platform.
"I would have raised it with Donald Trump," he told host Mihingarangi Forbes.
"But the reason I have - in your words - 'the crack at the Prime Minister' is simple. She's the one who said it's our nuclear-free moment. She's the one seeking to appeal to the woke progressive left around the world. She's the one who said it is a cop-out, we don't have the luxury of the cop-out on these issues.
"When she had the chance to raise it with the most important figure in the world, the leader of the free world, the President of the United States - she didn't."
Trump is currently in the process of pulling the US out of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement and has rolled back a number of his predecessor Barack Obama's efforts to reduce the United States' emissions.
Earlier this week, when asked if it was important to confront Trump on climate change, Ardern said it might come up but the conversation would not be scripted.
"I have no qualms talking about New Zealand's position on climate change to any leader, regardless of the position they may take.
"What I think is important to keep in mind though is regardless of whether countries are signing up to the Paris Agreement - which of course would be New Zealand's preference - we are seeing climate action at a state level and often at a private-sector level as well. What we need to start encouraging is even if we're not seeing politicians moving, we need to make sure we find ways that we can achieve those goals regardless."
Later, Ardern said they didn't have a long discussion on climate change.
"I mentioned briefly the climate summit and referenced that and our participation, but not a long discussion."
Speaking to The Hui, Bridges denied there is a climate emergency but acknowledged that it's still an important issue.
"I think we need to make progress, but I think calling it a climate emergency firstly is factually inaccurate, but secondly creates a huge amount of worry, of anguish amongst young people that I don't think is productive," he told Forbes.
Earlier this week, tens of thousands of people took to New Zealand's streets demanding action over climate change.