New Zealand absent from Climate Ambition Summit 2020

New Zealand was noticeably absent from the massive international Climate Ambition Summit 2020 on Saturday night.

Australia also didn't speak at the virtual event, hosted by the United Nations, the UK and France.

Some reports have suggested our poor record has put us offside with some of the better-performing countries.

Bush fires, sea-level rise and extreme weather events - climate change is unavoidable.

More than 80 world leaders and environmentalists took part in the Climate Ambition Summit online. The UK Prime Minister made it clear it's a serious issue for all of humanity - not just greenies.

"We're doing this not because we're hairshirt-wearing, tree-hugging, mung bean-munching eco-freaks," Boris Johnson said.

Johnson is pledging to reduce the UK's emissions by 68 percent by 2030 and to stop funding fossil fuel projects overseas.

"We can reverse the process by which for centuries, humanity has been quilting our planet in a toxic tea cosy of greenhouse gases," he said.

Despite declaring a climate emergency just 11 days ago, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did not speak at the summit.

"This summit was really for countries to make some quite significant announcements. In the time we had available to us we felt we couldn't do it justice," Climate Change Minister James Shaw says.

Over the ditch, Australia's Prime Minister was reportedly barred from speaking at the summit, with critics claiming it's because his policies are not ambitious enough.

"Global targets are important, but unless those practical targets can be met then they will only remain ambitions and emissions will continue to rise," Scott Morrison said.

The Australian Institute's director of climate and energy did not hold back in his criticism.

"The Climate Ambition Summit is for those who do the most, not for those who are trying to get away with the least."

Since 1990 greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand have risen by nearly 60 percent, and there's criticism not enough is being done about it. Greenpeace says Ardern's promises are not backed by real policy action, and until they are then she shouldn't be included as an ambitious climate leader.

"It must be pretty awkward for Jacinda Ardern to have talked the talk on climate change so strongly internationally and then be excluded for lack of actually implementing any policy that would reduce emissions," says spokesperson Niamh O'Flynn.

Shaw admits there have been some downfalls.

"Ultimately over the past 30 years New Zealand hasn't really grasped what needs to be done to reduce emissions and stave off climate change. People are waking up to that," Shaw says.

And watch this space, the minister promising more details on New Zealand's next wave of climate action to be released on February 1.