New Zealand will contribute $45 million to the Global Research Alliance on agriculture greenhouse gases following the announcement that at least 19 countries will sign up to the initiative.

Associate Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser and Agriculture Minister David Carter announced the contribution yesterday in Copenhagen, where ministers from 19 countries joined New Zealand's plan to bring together public and private researchers from some of the world's largest economies.

Mr Groser said he expected other countries would contribute as the plan gained momentum.

"We're talking about some very first early pledges," Mr Groser said.

Representatives of twenty or more countries in the project will meet in New Zealand in March to plan the next stage.

"Countries in the alliance have agreed to co-operate to avoid double-ups so that money for research goes further," Mr Groser said.

Founding alliance member countries are Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain, the United States, Uruguay and Vietnam.

So far the US has contributed US$90m (NZ$124m) and Canada has contributed CAD$35m.

The alliance - which was proposed by Prime Minister John Key at the United Nations General Assembly in September - has been heavily promoted by New Zealand as an initiative that brings developed and developing countries together on reducing emissions from live-stock, cropping and rice production.

Mr Groser said the commitment was a significant step in boosting the profile of agriculture greenhouse gas research internationally.

"Fourteen per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture, but for New Zealand and parts of the developing world, that figure is much higher.

"There is an urgent need to develop technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration in agriculture while enhancing food security," Mr Groser said.

Global Research Alliance members will meet early next year in New Zealand to establish working groups, and discuss priority setting and opportunities for encouraging participation.

New Zealand and other agriculture-based economies have difficulties in reducing such emissions without cutting production at a time when demand for food is growing.

Global agriculture's 14 per cent contribution of all human-induced greenhouse gases - on a par with the emissions from every car, boat and plane on the planet - has so far been given little research funding.

New Zealand farmers campaigned against a call by the previous Labour Government for them to increase their spending on emissions research, even though nearly half of the nation's total emissions come from agriculture.

-NZPA With Eloise Gibson