New Zealand is pledging to further cut net greenhouse emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, after advice to the Government signalled its previous target wouldn't limit temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw on the eve of the United Nations' climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
Under the Paris Agreement, each country adopted an international target called a nationally determined contribution.
New Zealand's updated target will see it try to reduce net emissions by 50 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030.
It had been 30 per cent, which the Climate Change Commission said was incompatible with limited warming to 1.5C.
It means New Zealand will have to offshore two-thirds of its emissions over the next decade, at a cost of $1.5 billion a year.
It will work with countries in the Asia/Pacific and pay them to plant trees, to offset our emissions.
“New Zealand’s enhanced contribution to the global effort to fight climate change now represents our fair share, and is in line with what’s needed if we are to avoid the worst impacts of global warming on New Zealand,” Ardern said.
She said while New Zealand was a small contributor to global climate emissions, "as a county surrounded by oceans and an economy reliant on our land we are not immune to the impact of climate change, so it’s critical we pull our weight".
Shaw said this decade was "make or break" for the planet.
“Two years ago we put the 1.5˚C global warming limit into our Zero Carbon Act. Today we’re upping our commitment to help keep the world on track to meeting it."
The new target didn't go down well with environmental group Greenpeace.
"The Government’s latest promise to reduce emissions through the NDC play fast and loose with the numbers by equating gross emissions with net emissions, they’re non-binding and, without tackling agriculture - our biggest source of emissions - they’ll have to wimp out by opting for techno fixes and offshore options," Greenpeace Aotearoa agriculture campaigner Christine Rose said.
"These new targets are too little, too slow and unless we take action to address agricultural emissions now, the heavy lifting is left to the rest of us while agribusiness continues to profit from pollution."