Jacinda Ardern has been forced to defend New Zealand's climate change policies after a swipe from teen activist Greta Thunberg and a global summit snub.
Like Australia, New Zealand was absent from the Climate Ambition Summit held at the weekend by the United Nations, United Kingdom and France.
An invitation didn't come despite Ms Ardern's embrace of climate-friendly policies during her tenure as prime minister, including the passage of the Zero Carbon Act last year and a climate emergency declaration last month.
Ms Ardern said summit chiefs issued invitations to countries with new policies to unveil, not whether they were already doing enough.
"The organisers specifically wanted announcements," she said.
"The instruction was that invitations or speaking slots will be given to countries who would make announcements specifically at the summit.
"Some not necessarily as ambitious as New Zealand had been part of (the summit) because of course they were extending their ambition, it wasn't a relative judgment as to who was the most ambitious."
While New Zealand has enshrined its Paris Agreement targets in law, it has a poor record compared with other developed nations, growing emissions by more than 50 per cent between 1990 and 2018.
Greta, the Swedish leader of the School Strikes 4 Climate movement, took aim at a fresh New Zealand pledge to reduce emissions within the pubic sector, which would effect less than one per cent of the country's carbon footprint.
"In other words, the Government has just committed to reducing less than 1 percent of the country's emissions by 2025".
Text explaining New Zealand's so-called climate emergency declaration. This is of course nothing unique to any nation. #FightFor1Point5https://t.co/Yp8nuek9Pn
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 13, 2020
She retweeted an article which described New Zealand's latest action as virtue signalling, causing Ms Ardern to respond.
"If that was the sum ambition or any government, then that would be worthy of criticism. It is not our sum ambition," she said.
Ms Ardern said a raft of new measures in 2021, including the country's first carbon budget and a fresh review of biogenic methane targets, would show her government's commitment.
"It's only a good thing that there are people out there continuing to urge ambition in action," she said.
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