New Zealand will join a climate control convention which includes nations like the United States, China and India rather than sign up to phase two of the Kyoto Protocol, the government has decided.
It is breaking ranks with Australia, which is going to ratify the next protocol phase after the current agreement expires at the end of this year.
Climate change Minister Tim Groser says there will be no policy changes and formal greenhouse gas reduction targets through to 2020 will be set when technical issues are resolved.
"New Zealand stands 100 per cent behind its existing Kyoto Protocol commitment," he said on Friday.
"We are on track to achieving our targets."
Mr Groser says New Zealand will remain full members of the protocol but will make its climate change pledges under the convention.
"There is no question of withdrawing, the issue was always different: where would we take our next commitment - under the Kyoto Protocol or under the convention, with the large majorities of economies?" he said.
"We have decided that it is in New Zealand's best interests to do the latter."
Mr Groser says the cabinet was well aware that the Australian government had reached a different view of what was in Australia's interests, and he had been in frequent contact with key Australian ministers.
"Australia currently has a different set of domestic policies in place, at least until 2015... we will continue to work closely with our Australian colleagues on climate change matters."