Labour has pledged to decarbonise the public transport bus fleet by 2035, and to replace coal boilers with electric alternatives, amid climate change policy released this afternoon.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today also announced Labour would boost funding across agricultural greenhouse gas programmes by $6 million a year.
She stuck by her description of climate change last election that it was "my generation's nuclear-free moment" - and said a Labour-led government would build on its work in the area over its first term.
That included the creation of the Zero Carbon Act - 2050-focused legislation that was spearheaded by Climate Change Minister and Greens co-leader James Shaw - along with the establishment of an independent commission, and an agreement with farmers to reduce emissions.
"We firmly believe that to have a real impact on climate change, we must build consensus so the changes stick, and the work must be integral to the range of major policy decisions governments make," Ardern said.
"The next term will be focused on the practical steps New Zealand can take to reduce emissions and keep building on the foundations we have already put in place."
She said Labour would legislate to end the installation of new low- and medium-temperature coal-fired boilers, and replace them with electric alternatives to help businesses slash emissions.
To help tackle fast-growing transport emissions, which make up 20 per cent of New Zealand's domestic greenhouse gas emissions, Labour would require that only zero-emissions buses be purchased by 2025.
It would target decarbonising the entire public transport bus fleet by 2035, and help regional councils with a $50m fund over four years.
It also planned to introduce a vehicle fuel-efficiency standard for new and used light vehicles entering the fleet, and extend the current road-user charge for heavy electric vehicles after 2025 and extend other low-emission power sources, such as hydrogen.
Ardern said the extra $6m annual injection for agricultural climate research would boost research happening in New Zealand "and build on our international leadership in this area".
Victoria University climate scientist Professor Dave Frame described the policy package as a "a fairly solid" range of initiatives designed to push towards a lower carbon future.
"The focus on transport is welcome, and could help considerably, if the more distant goals get buy-in from successive governments," he said.
"The vehicle emissions standards are very welcome, and long overdue, but again they won't apply to the large majority of vehicles in the OECD's oldest car fleet.
"This is a shame, and an important oversight. I expect it indicates a reluctance to spend political capital, and a tendency to push policy implementation into the future."
Labour has already signalled it wants to transition to clean energy through 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 - a goal some experts have doubted is possible.
Another Victoria climate scientist, Professor James Renwick, said there was now an "urgent need" to slash emissions - especially from transport and industry.
"The Labour Party's plans would help us on that path by making public transport fully renewable, by phasing out fossil fuels for industrial heating, and by making the electricity system fully renewable by 2030," he said.
"Many other initiatives, such as fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, support for the agriculture sector, and reducing waste, are all steps in the right direction."
Elsewhere on the climate front, Ardern oversaw a ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration, and a series of tweaks to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
But Ardern's Government has been repeatedly criticised for falling short elsewhere in climate policy.
That included failing to bring in repeatedly recommended "feebate" schemes and emissions standards for vehicles – there's also no sign of any future ban on fossil fuel vehicles more generally – and walking away from a previous pledge to electrify the government fleet by 2025.
Today's policy announcements included no changes here.
The Government has drawn further scorn from environmentalists in opting against bringing agriculture - our biggest emitting sector - into the ETS, in favour of an industry-government partnership.
And if agriculture is eventually forced into the ETS, that won't happen until 2025, when it would receive the same 95 per cent discount deal "carbon-intensive" industries like steel have been given.
It already looks unlikely New Zealand's climate pledges under the Paris Agreement will be strong enough to meet the UN's aspiration to limiting warming below 1.5C.
National, which made those pledges five years ago, is meanwhile sticking by those generally conservative priorities that underpinned them - that's reducing emissions "in a manner that does not threaten food production".
Its leader Judith Collins has repeatedly pointed out that New Zealand contributes 0.17 per cent of global gross emissions.
While it largely backed the Government in getting the Zero Carbon Act through Parliament, the farmer-friendly party still has an issue with methane targets, and would ask the commission to review them.
Asked by Ardern at last night's Press Leaders Debate what National's plan was on climate change, Collins said the tech sector was the single biggest game-changer.
Shaw's Green Party, which has been restrained by government partner NZ First this term, wants to go harder on climate change with a clean energy plan to end coal use by 2030 and industrial fossil gas use by 2035.
It wants to boost renewable electricity generation - installing solar panels on all suitable state homes is one example – and put tough transport and agriculture policies in place to hit those 2030 Paris goals.
One of its strongest pieces of climate policy landed last month, in an election pledge requiring the finance sector to disclose climate risks - something that would be a world-first.
At the opposite end of the political spectrum, Act would tear up both the Zero Carbon Act and the ETS in favour of a new plan tying carbon prices to those of our five biggest trading partners.