Leading British environmentalist Sir Jonathon Porritt accuses Chris Hipkins, Christopher Luxon of failing at climate leadership

A leading British environmentalist has slammed what he calls the "two Christophers" for failing at climate leadership just when New Zealand and the world needs it most.

Sir Jonathon Porritt, who advised King Charles on environmental issues for 30 years, urged Christophers Hipkins and Luxon to come up with something that reflects Kiwis' concerns.

July 6 was Sir Jonathon Porritt's birthday - it was also the planet's hottest day ever recorded.

The renowned environmentalist was in Auckland telling finance leaders they have the power to alter the course of our rapidly warming trajectory. And saying our politicians are failing us.

"I've got to admit I'm disappointed by the quality of leadership from both party leaders at the moment - from both Christophers on climate change, both have chosen to drop it down the list of priorities at exactly the time where quality leadership would tell us we need to pick up the pace," he told Newshub.

Sir Jonathon's father was former New Zealand Governor-General Sir Arthur Porritt, who won bronze in the 100m at the 1924 Olympics.

In this year's race to the polls, Sir Jonathon said voters should expect more from parties on climate.

"It isn't good enough to say people are preoccupied with the cost of living crisis and with all the other things going on, that's not good enough because there'll always be something to persuade poor leaders to put climate change at the back of the list," he said.

"There's no question climate change and tackling the challenge that is posed by climate change is one of the Government's top priorities already and it has been for the whole time we've been in Government," Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

"The top priority for National is a change in Government on October 14. Climate change is a key element which drives a policy platform that impacts all aspects of our country. On that basis it is a priority and that's something we're focused on," said National's climate spokesman Simon Watts.

But Sir Jonathon said New Zealand risks falling behind our traditional fossil fuel-hugging neighbours and reckons Anthony Albanese would've had these tough words to Hipkins this week: "You've got to wrap your head around the fact that all prosperous economies of the future will be ones that get really good at this low carbon transition. So mate, stop treating it as an environmental issue and start treating it as massive economic opportunity."

Opportunity like replacing jobs lost in the fossil fuel industry with ones in renewable energy.

"I'm still, to be honest, pretty staggered about New Zealand's failure to get on top of the offshore wind challenge," Sir Jonathon said.

It's widely agreed the biggest climate challenge for New Zealand is how to deal with agricultural emissions. The Government's plan lost its bipartisan support and has left farmers with uncertainty while National wants to delay pricing on farm emissions to 2030.

"It seems the easy way out for the politicians who don't want to deal with the political complexity and some of the pain for the communities involved. But it doesn't help anybody and it certainly doesn't help New Zealand," Sir Jonathon said.

Because the transition to lower emissions is coming, demanded by global markets and changing technologies and the impacts of climate change are well and truly here.