The Government is being urged to back a more ambitious international goal of restricting global warming to 1.5C, following promising indications from other developed nations.
With the second week of the UN COP21 climate change conference underway in Paris, developed countries have been under growing pressure to aim for bigger temperature-focused goals than the current 2C limit agreed by nations at the UN summit in Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.
Pacific nations, particularly threatened by rising seas, have called for a 1.5C goal to be included in the new Paris agreement - something which has been backed by France, Germany and more than 100 other countries.
Canada caused surprise by supporting the move, while Australia has gone as far as signalling it would support a UN review.
Nations have also been called upon to review the post-2020 commitments they've brought to Paris more frequently - every five years.
The Green Party today criticised incoming Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett for not commiting to a 1.5C goal.
"The Pacific Islands need a 1.5C limit to have a chance of surviving the effects of climate change," said the party's Pacific spokesperson, Marama Davidson.
New Zealand needed to stand with its Pacific neighbours and back a global agreement "that puts their lives and futures first", she said.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade's climate change ambassador, Jo Tyndall, told the Herald a solution could be found in the way the final text of the agreement was drafted.
"There are some countries that do not want to contemplate any long term goal, other than the 2C temperature increase that has been agreed since Cancun and there are others adamant that 1.5C has got to be the answer," she said.
"So somehow we've got to find a language solution that acknowledges the 1.5C goal without necessarily losing the 2C goal."
She also believed it would be politically and practically difficult for countries to go back on pledges they'd already brought to the table.
"To then turn around in a year or even two years at the very same time they are likely to be ratifying this new agreement and say, we know you went through a big effort domestically, but actually you can't join this agreement unless you put something more ambitious on the table... I think that's going to be politically really, really tough."
However, Ms Tyndall said New Zealand recognised the need to go back to the table early - particularly as some countries had only made pledges out to 2025.
"We would support a collective, common political moment when all countries go back and take a look at their targets and see whether they can do more."
New Zealand has brought to Paris a new target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels and 11 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.
• Jamie Morton travelled to Paris with support from the NZ Science Media Centre and the Morgan Foundation.