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Government hail historic climate deal

The New Zealand Government has hailed a historic deal on climate change, saying it is "the first truly global agreement on climate change".

Climate Change Minister Tim Groser described the agreement as a huge and historic step forward because all countries had agreed to take ambitious action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

United Nations officials and delegations from around the world concluded the deal in Paris this morning after two weeks of negotiations.

The Paris Agreement, which includes the biggest emitters the United States and China, set out a path to reducing emissions and limiting global temperature rise to 2C this century.

Low-lying Pacific countries which were worst-affected by climate change had argued for a 1.5C target, and this was included as an aspirational goal in the agreement.

Mr Groser said the significance of 185 countries making emissions reduction pledges over the course of the year could not be understated.

"The Paris Agreement banks these," he said. "While they collectively won't solve global warming in one hit, the new agreement sets up a process for regular, five-yearly updates.

"This sets the world on a clear pathway to a lower-carbon future."

Mr Groser said incredible diplomatic efforts by France had allowed countries to bridge seemingly impossible divides.

Labour and Greens MPs were part of the New Zealand delegation in Paris.

Labour's climate change spokeswoman Megan Woods said the agreement provided a strong framework for the world to take greater action in addressing climate change.

"The language in the text is a triumph of French diplomacy and contains some deliberate ambiguous language needed to reach agreement," she said.

Ms Woods said the goal of limiting temperature rise to 2C, or possibly 1.5C, was more ambitious than many people were expecting when talks kicked off two weeks ago.

"New Zealand is going to have to think about how it can contribute to the higher ambition achieved in Paris."

Green Party co-leader James Shaw also welcomed the Paris deal, and said New Zealand must now honour its commitments.

Mr Shaw said the agreement was not perfect "but it's frankly an incredible achievement".

It would force the National-led Government to change tack on its domestic policies, he said, because plans for oil-drilling, coal use and new motorways were incompatible with the deal.

Labour and Greens wanted the Government to set a more ambitious target of a 40 per cent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030.

New Zealand's current target amounts to an 11 per cent reduction on 1990 levels.

Mr Groser said this was a strong contribution to global efforts to combat climate change.

The Government also pledged at the Paris conference to provide $200 million in climate-related support to Pacific Island countries over the next four years.

By: Isaac Davison

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