New Zealand Labour Party

Speech to UN Secretary-General: Climate Change

Speech to UN Secretary-General’s High Level Dialogue on Climate Change


I thank Secretary-General Guterres for convening this meeting so we can discuss climate action.  

The Climate Summit in 2019 is perfectly timed to build momentum ahead of the recommunication of countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions in 2020. 

The Summit, along with this meeting, reaffirms the central role the multilateral system does and must play: climate change is global and can only be dealt with by a collective response. 



Dealing with emissions from the land sector will be one of our toughest challenges as a planet.  We have to reduce the environmental impact from the production of food without compromising food security. 

We need to demonstrate that we can feed the world, while taking bold action to reduce emissions.

Almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture.  Given this profile, we have invested heavily in finding solutions. 

New Zealand founded the Global Research Alliance to reduce greenhouse gases from agricultural emissions.

Within it; we are leading efforts to develop countries’ capabilities to assess technological and on-farm practice measures that will reduce emissions while also improving the efficiency of food production;

And we co-chair the agricultural initiative of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition;

We are convening a major agriculture side event at COP24, bringing together developed and developing country partners to foster collaboration on reducing agricultural emissions.

Action in agriculture will realise the ‘triple win’ of improving productivity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening resilience to climate change impacts. 



The global transition to a low emissions economy is irreversible and unstoppable. It has been described as being on the same scale as the industrial revolution, but occurring at the speed of the digital revolution. This type of transition risks leaving vulnerable people and communities behind. 

That is why putting an ambitious target down on paper is not enough. 

Targets need to be backed up with sound policies and detailed transition planning.

My Government has set up a just transitions unit to ensure that our people and our businesses are positioned to take advantage of opportunities; and that impacts are managed in an inclusive way. 

We all need to collaborate on this; to share ideas and best practice. To work out how to create advantage and innovation, and to smooth the road for those who need it.


Paris Rulebook

This year is a critical one for the Paris Agreement.

Political leaders may have thought that the Paris Agreement’s adoption in 2016 meant “job done”. 

But the Agreement only gives us the raw ingredients for climate action; the recipe - the detailed instructions - now have to be decided in Katowice. 

A credible and effective rulebook underpinning the Paris Agreement is critical for it to be a fully functioning treaty.

One that respects national sovereignty; provides a single rule set that makes all the actions taken by Parties under the Agreement transparent and accountable; and embodies a transparency framework that allows flexibility for those developing countries that need it.

Transparency and accountability are fundamental enablers of increased ambition. They give governments confidence to seek public licence for ambitious action.

There are now only a few months until Katowice and negotiators are frankly not ready. It is time for political leaders to send a crystal clear message that negotiation of the rulebook needs to be successfully concluded in December. 

It is up to leaders - right now - to direct negotiators to move off extreme positions, to genuinely seek paths of convergence and to provide reassurance in the face of real anxieties. 

Creating the conditions to support the flow of climate finance will be a key part of this reassurance.

That is why I have this week announced a fifty per cent increase in the contribution New Zealand is making over the next four years - with a special focus on the Pacific.