National says Jacinda Ardern isn't attending COP27 because she's got 'nothing big' to talk about

The world's biggest climate talks should be an opportunity for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to promote New Zealand's world-leading plan to price farmers' emissions.

But she's not going to COP27 - sending Climate Change Minister James Shaw to go it alone.

National says the Prime Minister hasn't been able to get agreement on an agricultural emissions pricing plan so she's got nothing to flaunt on the COP stage.

Extreme weather records have been broken on every continent in the year since world leaders last met for the UN's global climate summit.

And outside of the natural world there's chaos too.

"The whole world stage is very dangerous and people are very distracted so we've got a major war, that's had huge economic and social effects. The world's still coping with COVID, we haven't seen strong leadership internationally from the wealthy countries," Canterbury University political science Professor Bronwyn Hayward said.

The main purpose of COP, hosted by Egypt this year, is for world leaders to hold each other to account.

It's especially critical now that the UN predicts the world will fail to meet its goal of limiting warming to 1.5C.

"It's hugely important, it's critically important," Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.

There are longstanding issues to resolve like when and how rich countries will pay for the damage caused by their emissions to smaller nations who face deserting their homes due to rising oceans.

"Small states and developing countries will be able to get their voices heard and they will be pushing very hard for financial reparations for things like loss and damages," Prof Hayward said.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak decided last minute to attend COP after sustained pressure and US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron will also be there.

Canada, China and Russia won't be there though and Ardern, despite never having attended a COP as Prime Minister, is skipping it too for logistical reasons.

"Normally she's pretty jolly quick to jump on a plane to UN events, I can't understand why she doesn't want to," National's climate change spokesperson Scott Simpson said. 

National said that's because the Government's struggling to get consensus on how to price farming emissions.

"She's got nothing big to talk about at COP because actually, the plan hasn't been put in place yet," Simpson said.

Shaw said getting farmers to pay for emissions is a tough sell everywhere.

"We can see how contentious it is here in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is equally if not more contentious in other countries around the world," he said.

"This is an opportunity to explain to the world that this is something unique that New Zealand is doing," Prof Hayward said.

Some see it as a missed opportunity to flaunt our leadership on emissions-friendly farming.

The Prime Minister's office said it's not routine for leaders to attend COP and Ardern has raised climate change issues on the global stage this year already.