The New Zealand government announced Thursday that the country is to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), an international group launched this year to fight short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon, methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said moving quickly to reduce emissions from short-lived climate pollutants was part of a coherent strategy to tackle climate change.
"This new group is not a substitute for action on the real climate change problem, carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for around a hundred years," Groser said in a statement.
The CCAC was focussed on reducing methane emissions from industry, which complemented work that New Zealand was leading in reducing methane emissions from agriculture.
"We have been asked to lead an agriculture initiative in the CCAC that will add to our work in the highly successful Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases initiated by New Zealand in 2009," said Groser.
The work of the CCAC, along with work in the Major Economies Forum, the Global Research Alliance, and the reform or fossil fuel subsidies that New Zealand was coordinating would add value to global agreements negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"New Zealand is active internationally on all these fronts. These efforts demonstrate on-going action on climate mitigation during the transition period to the post-2020 global climate agreement that will be negotiated by 2015," he said.
"We have a long-term and coherent strategy in place and we are on track to deliver what most New Zealanders have voted for -- a balanced approach to climate change, playing our part while avoiding imposing excess costs on households and businesses while the Government focuses on jobs and strengthening our recovery."
The CCAC, which next meets in March 2013, was a joint initiative of the governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United States and the United Nations Environment Programme in recognition of the critical need to address the impacts of short lived climate pollutants in the near term to deal with climate change.
Short-lived climate pollutants can linger in the air for a few days to a few decades, warming the climate and harming human health, according to the CCAC website.
The New Zealand government has drawn criticism this year for watering down the requirements for its emissions trading scheme and for announcing last month that it would not be signing up to a second commitment period on greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, opting instead to take an emissions pledge under the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change from Jan. 1 next year.
The controversial move would align New Zealand's climate change efforts with a group of developed and developing countries that were collectively responsible for 85 percent of global emissions, including the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil and Russia.
According to the United Nations, the major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that the Convention just encourages industrialized countries to stabilize emissions, while the Protocol commits them to doing so.