Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to unveil a New Zealand-led trade initiative to remove tariffs on climate change technology and cut global fossil fuel subsidies while in New York this week.
And while her brand is seen to have taken a hit in the wake of Labour's botched handling of complaints against a former Labour staffer, her international standing appears to be undiminished.
She has been invited to several high profile events this week, including delivering the keynote address at the UN's Climate Action Summit tomorrow (NZT), for which UN Secretary-General António Guterres specifically shoulder-tapped her.
Before her address, she will meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss a possible free trade deal, which Johnson has previously been enthusiastic about as soon as the UK is in a position to negotiate following Brexit.
Her first appointment in New York after arriving from Japan this morning will be a one-on-one meeting with Guterrres at UN HQ to talk about tomorrow's summit.
Climate change is a particular focus of leaders' week at the UN, and the summit is seen as one of the most important climate change events since the Paris Agreement, which has a target to keep temperature rises within 2 Degrees Celsius this century.
Guterres has told leaders to come to New York with concrete plans, not "beautiful speeches", on how to meet the Paris target, and has made specific requests around carbon neutrality plans for 2050, taxing carbon, axing coal power beyond 2020 and tackling fossil fuel subsidies.
Countries with clear action plans have been invited to speak, but questions remain over how much clout the summit will have; coal-supporting nations Australia, Japan and South Africa are expected to be absent, as well as countries critical of the Paris Agreement, including the United States.
New Zealand's current goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, along with an aspirational goal to be net carbon neutral by 2050.
To put added pressure on heads of state, this morning a group of 87 major companies across 27 countries — with a combined market capitalisation of US$2.3 trillion and annual direct emissions equivalent to 73 coal-fired power plants — announced climate targets to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 Degrees Celsius this century.
A leader in dealing with agriculture
When Guterres visited New Zealand in May, he praised New Zealand for its climate change leadership and noted the Zero Carbon bill, which would reduce methane emissions and embed the more ambitious 1.5 Degrees Celsius target.
Ardern said Guterres' invitation to speak in New York was not because New Zealand had a perfect record, but for its leadership in an economy heavily reliant on agriculture, which accounts for half of New Zealand's carbon emissions.
"No one has the profile that we have when it comes to agriculture, so a lot of people are looking to us as to how we are going to make sure that we continue to be food producers, but sustainable food producers," Ardern told the Herald in a pre-trip interview.
"There are a few areas where they're looking to us and saying, 'This is tough. What are you guys going to do?' So that's the message that we're sharing."
Asked if New Zealand had done enough to warrant the invitation, Ardern trumpeted the Zero Carbon bill's aim to cut methane emissions, bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme by 2025, banning new offshore oil and gas exploration and increasing incentives for electric and fuel-efficient vehicles.
Agricultural interests such as Fonterra and Federated Farmers are wary that the measures go too far, while conservation and environmental groups including Greenpeace say they don't go far enough.
Trade policy as a climate change tool
Climate change will again be a focus for Ardern on Thursday, when she will announce a trade agreement to remove tariffs on climate change-related goods and services, such as inputs into renewable energy.
It will also implore nations to use trade policy to restrict fossil fuel subsidies, and Ardern hopes the initiative will trigger further action in the World Trade Organisation.
"That's obviously an area where we have pushed and pushed within the WTO but we haven't had an instrument around it.
"We are actively trying to pursue a climate change-trade tool that removes barriers to trading in goods and services that will benefit from addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation.
"It's climate change-related technology being tariff-free, basically, so creating an instrument that countries sign up to that will see the free movement of those goods around the world and, at the same time, placing expectations on the removal of fossil fuel subsidies within the agreement."
It follows a ministerial statement, signed by Trade Minister David Parker along with 11 other WTO members, in December 2017 that called on the WTO to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
Parker said at the time that removing fossil fuel subsidies for consumption alone could reduce global emissions by 6 to 8 per cent by 2050.
Ardern also used her address to Apec in Vietnam in 2017 to push the issue.
"Every year governments spend US$500 billion to subsidise fossil fuels, four times the amount we spend on renewable energy," she told Apec.
"We must phase them out. It is incumbent on us to begin incentivising investment in the right technologies."
'Risk of being seen as two-faced'
A 2017 research paper by Terrence Loomis, of the Fossil Fuels Aotearoa Research Network, said that New Zealand subsidised the fossil fuel industry by about $88 million a year.
Loomis told the Herald that the Government defined a subsidy very narrowly, but he had used a definition more in line with the OECD and IMF which included tax exemptions for drilling rigs and seismic ships, tax deductions for petroleum mining costs, and reduced petrol prices for sectors such as agriculture, forestry and fishing.
The latter, which he called an indirect subsidy, made up the bulk of the $88m figure.
"To the extent that New Zealand continues to provide any type of taxpayer support for the petroleum industry, the Government is at risk of being seen as two-faced on the world stage by calling for all countries to phase out subsidies," Loomis said.
"We are in an era of deepening climate crisis, where measures to phase out oil and gas exploration and production in a planned and measured way to stay below 1.5C warming is something progressive governments around the world are considering.
"It's simply irresponsible to continue to promote and facilitate petroleum exploration and production under these circumstances."
Ardern questioned whether Loomis' figures included spending that would not traditionally be called a subsidy, but she conceded that New Zealand was not free of such subsidies.
"We are subsidising and giving tax incentives for oil exploration. Those are the obvious ones where people will see an argument that you should be phasing out."
This seems at odds with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which said in a statement that New Zealand gave no subsidies to the industry, but provided "support" through petroleum-related R+D and promotional activity at international conferences.
Ardern said any support New Zealand gave to the industry was in the context of the transition away from fossil fuels.
"Obviously we are phasing out future permitting of oil and gas exploration, and we are also deliberately moving away from fossil fuels and incentivising the transfer of R+D into fuel-efficient technologies.
"We are investing the Provincial Growth Fund in supporting the development of green energy generation - green hydrogen in the central North Island is looking come on stream next year - and we've got the new energy research centre to drive the innovation we need."
Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio is also in New York to press the Pacific's case for the need for urgent climate change action.
"We are demonstrating that we are standing with the pacific region. We've got to be championing more ambitious action," Sio told the Herald.
"What's happening in the Pacific will happen to every other nation around the world. You save Tuvalu, you save the Pacific region, you save the world."
Tomorrow will be a hectic day for Ardern. After the climate summit, she will have a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump, followed by meetings with tech company executives ahead of a progress report on the Christchurch Call.
Ardern is expected to announce a collaborative crisis-response framework for stopping the online spread of March 15-type content in the future.