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No Right Turn: Climate Change: Legal actions

Written By: - Date published: 6:05 am, February 10th, 2021 - 7 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, climate change - Tags: , , ,

No Right Turn wrote last week:


The Auckland Council will soon be consulting on a Regional Land Transport Plan, setting their transport priorities (and funding) for the next decade. Obviously, this will have a huge impact on the city’s emissions profile. And to make sure they think hard about that, Lawyers for Climate Action is threatening to take them to court if they get it wrong:

Climate change lobbyists are warning Auckland Council it could face legal action if its decisions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions fall short of promises made.The message came from Lawyers for Climate Action during a presentation to the council’s planning committee on Thursday.

[…]

“We expect the RLTP to be entirely consistent [with emission reduction goals] otherwise someone is not listening – the failure of council to follow its own policies is something that would be open to the courts,” Winton said.

The Auckland Council passed a climate change plan last year, setting goals of halving emissions by 2030, and net-zero by 2050. Lawyers for Climate Action would be arguing that the transport plan must be consistent with that. Given the Council’s explicit adoption of the national 2050 target, they could also potentially use the Zero Carbon Act as backup. But hopefully the Council will do the right thing and make a challenge unnecessary.Wellington City Council could be in for a similar challenge over Wellington airport’s absurd expansion plans. While the Council isn’t the direct decision-maker at present, it will eventually be making resource consent decisions on any expansion, and like Auckland has adopted a climate plan with a net-zero 2050 target. Which means any eventual resource consent could be challenged, unless it includes strict conditions limiting flights in order to reduce emissions (which would defeat the point of expansion). And hopefully Wellington airport will get that message, and reconsider until technological change makes flying moral again.

7 comments on “No Right Turn: Climate Change: Legal actions ”

  1. Stuart Munro 1

    It's good to see some attention being paid to air travel, which represents one of the biggest discretionary carbon spends, instead of the usual assumption that transitioning to private electric vehicles is possible in the time frame, sustainable, and desirable.

    Mike Joy had this to say:

    So we are going to replace 140k TWh of a total 170 with renewables? that's 80% and every bit of the infrastructure to that will require fossil energy for infrastructure like mining the materials that are harder and harder to find, with energy that has a fast increasing energy-cost-of-energy (declining net energy or EROI). We are in LALA land and that includes our CCC, is everyone too scared to admit it? AND if by some miracle we did keep going as we are what about the rest of our massive threats like biodiversity crash, loss of soils empty oceans ocean acidification ….??????

    The transition required is substantial, and to achieve it without massive costs, be they economic or environmental, will require more than the default neoliberalism that renders most contemporary public service interventions useless or worse.

    It’s a curious goal for a government that not so long ago was resisting calls for it to be transformative.

  2. mickysavage 2

    As a member of this organisation (lawyers for climate action) can I just say that I approve wholeheartedly of this proposal.

    Simon Wilson in the Herald had a particularly good take on the meeting.

    "… Jenny Cooper from Lawyers for Climate Action reminded the councillors they have legal obligations to meet emissions targets. Her group was “very prepared to test this in court”.

    That did it. Cr Jo Bartley, who represents poorer suburbs like Otāhuhu, was furious. “We get so much hate about bike lanes,” she said. “We don’t need threats from you as well. To hear you guys say you’re going to sue us, it just sucks. If there’s any chance you could bypass us and just sue the haters, that would be great.”

    “It does suck,” said [All Aboard’s Paul] Winton, not backing down. “And it’s the burden of leadership. We thank you, the people in this room. But there are about 14 per cent of people who don’t believe climate change is a thing. They’re the haters, but they are the loudest voices. The science says, ignore them.”

    It is the burden of leadership.

    • weka 2.1

      Is she saying her constituents hate the council for building bike lanes?

      I hope the lawyer's group is successful. Might be a new tool in the toolbox.

      • mickysavage 2.1.1

        The lawyers group is terrifyingly resourced and determined. And elected representatives should realise that this is about leadership.

      • Visubversa 2.1.2

        The "good citizens" of Mt Albert are still moaning about the bike lanes that have been put in the Mt Albert Town centre. The footpath was widened because double decker buses will be using the road and need to be kept back from the veranda overhangs. Some of the space was used for cycle lanes. The cycle lanes have become the focus of the complaints about the changes in the traffic light phases.

    • RedLogix 2.2

      In the meantime here in Brisbane there are fantastic bike lanes everywhere. And no-one moans.

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