Jacinda Ardern defends not telling Donald Trump to commit to climate change Paris Agreement

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended not telling US President Donald Trump to remain committed to the climate change Paris Agreement.

Last week, Ardern spoke at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, where she said no one had the "luxury of copping out" of acting to combat climate change.

"Not those who deny climate change, nor those who believe it’s too far gone," she said.

She was subsequently criticised by National Party leader Simon Bridges for only making a brief mention of climate change during her meeting with Trump.

"If you say, climate change, well she said that this is something no one has the luxury of copping out on, yet she did. When she had the chance to put things to the most powerful person in the world, the leader of the free world, who could make a difference, she didn't," he told The AM Show last week.

After being elected, Trump promised to withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which commits nations to keeping global average temperatures below 2C and pursuing 1.5C. The earliest formal withdrawal that could happen would be in November 2020.

Ardern defended not making climate change and the agreement a significant part of the meeting, saying raising it would have essentially been pointless.

"I could have spent half of that bilateral on climate change. I am pretty sure that the President of the United States knows the position of the world, we are all in the Paris Agreement [excluding the US]," she told The AM Show.

Asked whether she told Trump to stay committed to the Paris Agreement, Ardern said she did not. 

"Do you think me, from New Zealand, telling President Trump to rejoin the Paris Agreement would have made President Trump rejoin the Paris Agreement?"

Most of the meeting between the two world leaders instead focussed on trade - with New Zealand continuing to desire a free trade agreement with the US - and the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks.

Ardern described it as an "excellent meeting" with Trump viewing New Zealand "warmly" - something he confirmed in a tweet.