14 Nov 2017

Tokelau climate change efforts recognised

9:22 pm on 14 November 2017

Tokelau is now formally included in major global climate change agreements after a declaration by New Zealand to the United Nations.

Green Party leader James Shaw.Green Party leader James Shaw.

Green Party leader James Shaw. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

New Zealand's Climate Change Minister James Shaw says the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement will apply to Tokelau from today.

New Zealand has submitted a formal declaration to the UN to have the agreements extended to cover Tokelau's low lying atolls which are already experiencing the effects of sea-level rise.

Mr Shaw says the move comes after a request by the Tokelau government, which has in the past complained about being left out of climate change discussions.

The declaration means New Zealand's reporting to the UN will also include action taken by Tokelau, a New Zealand territory, where 80 percent of the power supply is generated by solar panels.

Mr Shaw says Tokelau is likely to get increased recognition for its work around mitigating the effects of climate change.

He says it's also likely there'll be a bigger focus on its vulnerability to climate change.

"This gives a formality to the clear stake Tokelau already has in the negotiations, and in securing its future as a climate-resilient Pacific island," Mr Shaw said in a statement.

"It also signals the commitment both countries have to addressing climate change at home and in the world."

The statement also included comments from Tokelau's Climate Change Minister Kelihiano Kalolo.

"This is a monumental achievement for us and I want to commend New Zealand for hearing our voices," he said.

Mr Kalolo said Tokelau was well positioned to do its part in addressing climate change.

A decision has not yet been taken on whether New Zealand's reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, known under the UNFCC as its Nationally Determined Contribution, will include Tokelau.