International Framework

Chapter 2, Climate Change Law and Policy in New Zealand. 50-77, Lexis Nexis, Wellington, 2011

38 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2013 Last revised: 11 Oct 2013

See all articles by Vernon Rive

Vernon Rive

Auckland University of Technology

Date Written: July 1, 2011


This chapter outlines the international legal and policy framework within which New Zealand climate change regulation sits. More than most areas of domestic environmental policy, national climate change regulation and policy is heavily dependent on the complex suite of international treaties, rules and decisions which make up the growing body of international law on the subject. So, an understanding of the international framework is necessary to shed light on the reasons why New Zealand’s adopted climate change regulatory regime has been designed in the way that it has, and also how it might change in the future with developments at the international level. The chapter commences with a brief account of the history of international discussions and negotiations concerning climate change. It presents an overview of the central multilateral environmental agreement concerning climate change, and goes on to discuss the 1992 UNFCCC, followed by its most important subsidiary document to date: the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. “Flexibility mechanisms” under the Kyoto Protocol (emissions trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and the Joint Implementation mechanism) are outlined, as to a significant degree, New Zealand’s domestic regime is designed to fit within those mechanisms, in particular, the international emissions trading regime. Key post-Kyoto international developments (including decisions and other developments) are then briefly discussed, including the outcomes of meetings in Bali (2005), Copenhagen (2009) and Cancún (2010). This part of the chapter should be read in conjunction with chapter 3 (The Nature of the Problem and the Implications for New Zealand). Finally, brief reference is made to the role of customary law in international climate change litigation, together with a discussion on non-treaty climate change initiatives, including the (recently disestablished) Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development, Climate and International Carbon Action Partnership and Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.

Suggested Citation

Rive, Vernon, International Framework (July 1, 2011). Chapter 2, Climate Change Law and Policy in New Zealand. 50-77, Lexis Nexis, Wellington, 2011. Available at SSRN:

Vernon Rive (Contact Author)

Auckland University of Technology ( email )

AUT City Campus
Private Bag 92006
Auckland, 1142
New Zealand
09 921 9999 (Phone)


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