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Climate agreement ratified by year end

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/08/2016

The government will ratify the Paris agreement on climate change before the end of the year.

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says the decision is a confirmation of commitment to the historic agreement.

The agreement was finalised in December, when representatives from 175 countries signed it in Paris. It has been available for signature since April.

Ratification is the formal step countries must take to be full participants and ensure the agreement takes effect.

Ms Bennett says New Zealand will ratify it before a UN climate change conference in November.

She says it changes the way the world thinks about climate change.

"Ratifying it early reinforces our commitment to this deal and our support for the global momentum to grow with lower emissions," she said on Wednesday.

Opposition parties gave the ratification announcement a cautious welcome.

"It's all well and good, but where's the plan?" asked Labour's Megan Woods.

"There has to be a plan, post-ratification, to meet our targets - the gap between the minister's rhetoric and her actions is now a chasm."

The Greens said it was "a small step in the right direction" and the government now needed to walk the talk.

"That will require some significant about-turns on intensive dairying, drilling for oil and gas, and building low-value motorways," said co-leader James Shaw.

BusinessNZ said it was "a positive move" signalling New Zealand was serious about climate change.

So far 22 countries other than New Zealand have ratified the agreement.

It needs 55 countries to ratify it before it can take effect.

Under the agreement, each nation is required to set an emissions reduction target.

New Zealand committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

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