Donald Trump's kept his campaign promise to pull the US from the Paris climate accords because that's what his supporters want, says Gerry Brownlee.
The Foreign Minister will next week meet US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but despite the global condemnation of Mr Trump's latest move, climate change isn't likely to be at the top of the agenda.
"We'll obviously want to canvass trading relations, we'll reaffirm the various commitments that we have internationally toward the defeat of terrorism, and I would also expect given the most recent decision from the US there will be some discussion about relative positions on climate change," Mr Brownlee told The Nation on Saturday.
"But in the end, it is the trading relationship… that [is] pretty important to us."
The Paris Agreement, signed by 195 countries in 2015, aims to keep global warming to less than 2degC above pre-industrial levels. Mr Brownlee refused to condemn Mr Trump's tearing up of the agreement, saying it was his right as President.
"In the end, you've got an administration there that has won the presidency, and is keeping faith with the people who elected them. Beyond that, we don't have any comment."
Mr Trump has previously claimed climate change is a hoax, and wants to expand fossil fuel mining and drilling in the US. Asked by host Lisa Owen if Mr Trump was ignorant, Mr Brownlee reiterated that he was just fulfilling a campaign promise.
"He has made a statement to people in the United States who elected him, and he is sticking to that."
Mr Brownlee himself is adamant climate change is real, saying it would be "unreasonable" not to expect the accumulated decades of emissions not to have an effect. But, unlike many other believers, he has faith the world will be just fine.
"A lot of the business entities in the US that have signed up to reducing their emissions have reaffirmed those positions in the last couple of days, so I don't think we're seeing a turning back of the clock to any particularly bad positions… I'm not terribly worried about it because I'm very, very optimistic about the technological changes that are coming in the world."
Scientists estimate the United States' exit from the Paris Agreement could alone add 0.3degC to global temperatures. But in addition to businesses - including some of the world's biggest fossil fuel companies - several cities and states have in the past 24 hours reaffirmed their commitment to reducing emissions, including economic powerhouses New York and California.
Mr Tillerson will meet Mr Brownlee on Tuesday. Mr Brownlee says he will bring brief Mr Tillerson on how the 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership is going. Mr Trump pulled the US out of that deal too.
Mr Brownlee won't be bringing up concerns about the United States' political stability under Mr Trump.