Greta Thunberg in Climate Fight with NZ Leader Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern takes a video as she meets members of the public during a walkabout at London Street on October 06, 2020 in Lyttelton, New Zealand. The 2020 New Zealand General Election will be held on Saturday 17 October. It was originally due to be held …
Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

New Zealand’s left wing Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been forced to defend her country’s climate policies after criticism from teenage activist Greta Thunberg and a global summit snub.

New Zealand was absent from the Climate Ambition Summit held at the weekend by the United Nations, United Kingdom and France.

An invitation didn’t come despite Ardern, a former president of the International Union of Socialist Youth, enthusiastically embracing U.N. mandated climate policies during her tenure as prime minister, including the passage of the Zero Carbon Act last year.

Thunberg retweeted a story critical of the government when it came to climate change and referred to New Zealand’s “so-called climate emergency declaration.”

She took a line from the piece which said: “In other words, the government has just committed to reducing less than one percent of the country’s emissions by 2025.”

TVNZ reports Ardern claimed she hadn’t seen the tweet but said it had been described to her as a “reference to our public service carbon neutral goal of 2025.”

“I would, of course, give the context there that, if that was the sum ambition of any government, then that would be worthy of criticism.

“It is not our sum ambition. And it is not the totality of our plans on climate change,” she said, adding she thinks it is a “good thing that there are people out there continuing to urge ambition and action.”

Ardern, 40, has served as the leader of the NZ Labour Party since 1 August 2017 and took office as prime minister on 26 October 2017.

Last week, she declared a climate emergency, and said the government sector will be required to buy only electric or hybrid vehicles, that the fleet will be reduced over time by 20 percent and all 200 coal-fired boilers used in the public service’s buildings will be phased out.

Before domestic New Zealand politics, Ardern worked in London as a senior policy adviser in an 80-person unit of then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

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