Law student Sarah Thomson is taking the NZ government to court over climate change. The court dates are Monday 26 June to Weds 28 June (next week).
— Wgtn HC Climate Case (@sarah_v_govt) June 16, 2017
Thomson writes at The Spinoff about what brought her to this,
The day it really hit home was when I listened to James Hansen – the man who warned the world about climate change in the 1980s and whom NASA tried to silence – give a talk comparing climate change to an asteroid speeding towards Earth. The longer we delay taking action, the harder it will become to divert.
I looked around me to see if anyone else was worried about this rather large problem hurtling towards us. Surely, at least the government would save us from impending doom.
But the more time went on, the more conscious I became of how backwards the whole situation was. I wasn’t a climate change expert, but I could see that as far as diverting the asteroid went, we were doing about the equivalent of laying out a runway and waving glow sticks at the thing.
In my own city, the illustrious Tron, big, new, expensive roading projects were under way while public transport and cycleways were given second class treatment. More exploration for new oil was also happening in New Zealand waters, even though we know the majority of the world’s existing known oil reserves can’t be used if we’re to avoid a climate catastrophe.
It didn’t make sense. It made me furious. What kind of a mess were we going to leave our kids to live in? What would we say to them when they asked us what we did about it? And that’s when I realised that the Government can’t always be trusted to act in the best interests of the people or the planet. I felt compelled by an irresistible force to do something.
In November 2015, inspired by climate change litigation overseas including a case in the Netherlands where 900 Dutch citizens filed as plaintiffs, and in the US where 21 kids are taking a lawsuit against the Federal Government, I filed a legal action challenging the New Zealand government’s inadequate response to climate change. The case was the first of its kind here.
She explains more about the case here,
As part of the Paris Agreement, the NZ Government adopted a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 11% below 1990 levels by 2030 (the NDC). My case claims that this target is unlawful.
I’m arguing that the Minister for Climate Change Issues failed to take into account relevant considerations when deciding the target – the Minister considered the cost of reducing emissions in the short term, but not the cost of climate change in the longterm if we fail to act. I’m also arguing that the target is irrational because it’s well below what’s needed to strengthen the global response to climate change.
I’m taking the case because action on climate change is urgent, and it’s going to affect everyone and every aspect of our lives. Failure to reduce emissions will result in more extreme weather events, which will put our homes and health at risk, make food prices rise, and have a significant impact on the economy.
The best outcome would be for the Court to order the Minister to reset the target in line with what’s needed on a global level to keep warming below 2°. At the very least, I would like to see the Court order that the target is unlawful and needs to be reviewed.
On the first day of court the Coal Action Network Aotearoa will be holding a rally outside the Wellington High Court at 9.15. There will be speeches including an address from Sarah Thomson. You can also attend the hearing that starts at 10am.
For the curious minds who asked: How I'm taking the govt to court over its climate targets when we have no written constitution. pic.twitter.com/FSmDqlZwfD
— Wgtn HC Climate Case (@sarah_v_govt) June 21, 2017
Moderator note – zero tolerance for climate change denial in comments. Bans will be given without warning.