National MP Maureen Pugh regrets her 'unclear' comments on man-made climate change

National Party MP Maureen Pugh says she regrets her comments on Tuesday morning, when she refused to say she believed in human-induced climate change.

She accepts she has "probably" undermined her party and has apologised to National leader Christopher Luxon.

Luxon told media he had met with Pugh and she will be reading a series of books on climate change.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pugh was asked if she believed in climate change caused by human actions. She said she hadn't seen the evidence.

"I have yet to see the response from [Climate Change Minister] James Shaw where one of our local councils wrote to him and asked him for the evidence."

Newshub asked if she didn't think humans are affecting climate change.

"It is not what I think. It is what I can prove. I am waiting on the evidence from the minister… I have yet to see what the evidence is that they are providing about that. "

But later on Tuesday, she clarified her position.

"I regret that my comments this morning were unclear and will have led some to think I am questioning the causes of climate change," she said.

"I accept the scientific consensus that human-induced climate change is real and there is a need to curb greenhouse gas emissions."

Pugh added we are seeing the impact of climate change in the likes of Cyclone Gabrielle, which she said has "devastated" so much of New Zealand.

"That's why National is committed to New Zealand achieving its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, including net zero by 2050."

Speaking to media later, Pugh said, "these are my words. I have been not instructed to say this at all".

"This is not my comfort zone. You guys in front of me with cameras and speakers. I wasn't probably calm enough this morning to articulate properly."

Luxon reiterated "there is no room for climate deniers or minimalists in the National Party caucus".

"We have been really clear about our commitment to net carbon zero, to NDC and to the Emissions Reductions Budgets."

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said he suspects Pugh's change of tune is the result of conversations she has had within her caucus.

"I honestly don't have time to respond to people who just don't believe in science, but I am happy to help," he said.

"There are tens of thousands of New Zealanders who have just had a first-hand lived experience of the effects of climate change and we cannot debate the basic science for why they are going through that experience. That science has been settled for decades."

Pugh, the National MP based in West Coast-Tasman, earlier said she isn't denying climate change. She told reporters the earth has cooled and warmed over a millennia.

"If I think back to the two cyclones that we had that impacted Tasman and the West Coast in 2018, back-to-back cyclones, they are just things nature throws at us," she said. 

"Of course I believe in climate change, I have seen the impact and the evidence of years and years of mining that shows you where the glacial moraines were over time. I have seen them over my own eyes. Climate change is real."

Other National colleagues Newshub spoke to after Pugh made her initial comments on Tuesday morning were all adamant man-made climate change is real. National's deputy leader Nicola Willis and MP Chris Bishop said they would be raising the issue with Pugh.