Jacinda Ardern calls on other countries to follow New Zealand's lead at US climate change summit

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is calling for other countries to follow New Zealand's lead on climate change.  

On Friday morning, Ardern joined US President Joe Biden and 38 other global leaders at a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate.

Biden committed the US to cutting carbon emissions by 50-52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This new target essentially doubles the previous promise. 

"Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade - this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis," Biden said.

"We must try to keep the Earth's temperature to an increase of 1.5C. The world beyond 1.5C degrees means more frequent and intense fires, floods, droughts, heatwaves and hurricanes - tearing through communities, ripping away lives and livelihoods." 

While New Zealand didn't commit to any new targets, Ardern used the summit to highlight the work already underway. 

As part of the Paris Agreement New Zealand previously pledged to slash emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels and 11 percent below 1990 levels, by 2030. 

Under the Zero Carbon Act, New Zealand is also committed to bringing down carbon dioxide to net zero by 2050, with a separate aim of reducing methane levels - mainly attributed to agriculture - by somewhere between 24 to 47 percent. 

The Prime Minister used the summit to call on other countries to follow New Zealand's lead.

"New Zealand welcomes the United States' international leadership on climate change and sees this summit as an important opportunity to work collectively to drive effective global action on climate change," Ardern said. 

"We used the Summit to call on others to follow New Zealand's lead and do the following four things: price carbon, make climate-related financial disclosures mandatory, end fossil fuel subsidies, and finance adaptation. Now it's time for us all to act." 

New Zealand will begin pricing agricultural emissions from 2025 and in 2020 was the first country to announce mandatory climate-related financial disclosures. The country has also been pricing carbon since 2008. 

Ardern also used the summit to highlight the impact of climate change on the Pacific. 

"Our Pacific neighbours have identified climate change as the single biggest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific. Our collective goal, here at this summit and beyond, has to be making commitments to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures."

Canada, Japan and South Korea all committed to new emission targets at the summit. 

Canada promised to limit carbon emissions by 40-45 percent by 2030, however this target was criticised by campaigners for not going far enough. Japan pledged to reduce emissions by 46 percent by 2030 compared to 2013 levels. South Korea committed to a new target and said it would stop financing the building of coal-fired power stations overseas. 

But India and China, two of the world's biggest emitters, made no new commitments.

While China hinted that coal might be in the firing line in the coming years, India pointed to lifestyle changes as a solution. 

Biden also used the summit to pile pressure on countries that have been slow to embrace action including Australia and Brazil.