Climate Change Minister Tim Groser is heading to a UN climate change summit in Doha, Qatar, saying it is time to "move on" from the Kyoto Protocol.
New Zealand has been criticised for its decision not to sign up to an extension of the Protocol binding countries to cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
Along with New Zealand, Russia, Japan and Canada have pulled out in recent years, meaning that Kyoto backers are down to a core led by the European Union and Australia that account for about 15% of world emissions.
Aid agency Oxfam said this week it is critical these countries commit to signing up to Kyoto, with poor countries "desperate" for action on climate change.
Groser says the Government is continuing to act on reducing emissions, and the Emissions Trading Scheme "remains firmly in place".
"But in terms of where we inscribe it internationally, it is time to move on from the Kyoto Protocol, which covers less than 15% of global emissions," he said.
Groser departs tomorrow for the 18th ministerial climate change conference to be held in Doha, under the UN Convention on Climate Change.
He said New Zealand has decided to "take its commitment" in the transition to a new climate change pact for 2020 under the Convention, but to "continue working with the broad Kyoto framework of rules".
"We will be showing that a transparent, rule-based commitment can be implemented under the Convention. We will be helping to carry forward the structural achievements of Kyoto while showing that the Protocol is not the only serious way for developed countries to commit," he said.
Last year's UN climate change conference in Durban made some significant advancements, including the decision to negotiate a new global agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol by 2020, the Minister said.
The aim at this year's conference will be to conclude the current "two-track" system comprising the Kyoto Protocol negotiations and parallel negotiations under the Convention, and to launch negotiations on the new agreement under the "Durban Platform," he said.
Groser says the new agreement will need "maximum participation" to succeed.
"It's about getting as many countries on the "mitigation bus" as possible and that means designing a more flexible, bottom up agreement that everyone can agree to."
New Zealand's stance comes as the country's environmental credentials have come under scrutiny in the international Press, in particular the country's "100% Pure" campaign.
The Minister will be joined at the conference by Associate Climate Change Minister, Simon Bridges.