Simon Bridges says he and Jacinda Ardern have been working behind the scenes to develop an "enduring" plan to combat climate change.
He told The AM Show on Monday he's had one private meeting with Ms Ardern, and National climate spokesman Todd Muller has met several times with Climate Change Minister James Shaw.
"We talked about whether we can have an enduring framework that everyone signs up to. That's a different thing from saying 'the target will definitely be this and we need to do those seven things'."
The difference between his party and the Government, he says, is that National wouldn't "try and do a Rogernomics, shock-and-awe" to meet the country's "ambitious" targets and meet its obligations under the Kyoto and Paris agreements.
It's likely he was referring to the Government's announcement earlier this year it would stop issuing exploration permits for new oil and gas fields, with a few exceptions.
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While the Government has emphasised existing permits will be honoured, perhaps leading to decades' more drilling, National MP Judith Collins said in April the ban was the "worst thing" the Government could have done for New Zealand's emissions.
"Natural gas is a very clean-burning fuel and currently fuels about 16 percent of our electricity supply," she told The AM Show, saying power generators would turn to dirty coal to keep the turbines running.
Mr Bridges holds that view too, pledging to overturn the ban.
"I would argue environmentally that would be the right thing in terms of a clean natural gas, rather than coal and so on. But I think the truth is... we are doing the right thing. You've got countries like the US pulling out."
Ms Ardern is in New York for the UN General Assembly, where she'll be focusing heavily on climate issues.
She will deliver the keynote address at the opening of UN Climate Week, is the keynote speaker at the One Planet Summit, and will give the keynote speech at the International Conference on Sustainable Development World Leaders Forum.
New Zealand will also co-host, with the Marshall Islands, the inaugural meeting of the Carbon Neutrality Alliance.
Ms Ardern is expected to talk up New Zealand's climate efforts not just at formal meetings but in a number of TV appearances she has lined up, including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, NBC's Today and on CNN where she'll be interviewed by chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.
"She was asked to do those appearances - she didn't seek them out," Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien told The AM Show.
"It's not going to be like a John Key Letterman Top 10 type scenario. They're at pains to point out she'll be sitting on the couch with Stephen Colbert doing an interview, rather than any kind of gimmicky thing. If you remember that John Key Top 10, you might just remember how cringey it was."
Mr Key's appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2009 was paid for by Tourism NZ.
Mr Bridges told The AM Show what he would do if he had the international platform Ms Ardern will enjoy this week.
"I'd say it's an outstanding country of opportunity. I think we'd probably push the tourism strongly, I think we'd push the trade strongly."
Watch the full interview above.
The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.