Second legal challenge to National’s climate emission targets

Written By: - Date published: 6:35 am, July 3rd, 2017 - 18 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, Environment, Maori Issues - Tags: , , ,

Last week Sarah Thomson took the government to court over its woeful response to climate change. She challenged the setting of emissions targets as being too low and not taking into account the long term consequences of addressing climate change adequately. The judge is expected to coming back with a ruling in 2 months.

Now the Mataatua District Māori Council from the eastern Bay of Plenty is also bringing a case against the government for breaching the Treaty of Waitangi,

“Under the Treaty of Waitangi, the Crown has a duty of active protection towards Maori in regards to their lands and resources. The allegation is that their climate change policies are breaching that obligation.”

NZ Maori Council member Maanu Paul said the Government needed to do more about climate change than it was at present.

“The claim raises various issues about how we are already being affected – by the current flooding in the eastern Bay of Plenty and the effect on Maori forestry of course, and fisheries,” Sharp said.

Because the tribunal was a commission of inquiry, not a court, Sharp said it had a broader discretion to inquire into the adequacy of government actions.

“The current targets are a long way behind what we think New Zealand should do, as a developed nation, under the Paris Agreement.”


Moderator note – zero tolerance for climate change denial in comments. Bans will be given without warning. 

18 comments on “Second legal challenge to National’s climate emission targets”

  1. patricia bremner 1

    Good. Citizens enacting democracy against an undemocratic state.

    • Wayne 1.1

      In my view the courts are not really the place to resolve these issues. The choices are fundamentally political, in the sense that different governments will different views on what they have to do to meet the legislative requirements.

      The judge surely can’t set the targets, they could only require the the govt to redo the targets if they found the current targets clearly were wrongly done on the face of them, that is no reasonable minister could have come to such a decision.

      I appreciate the Standardnistas will never think the current govt is reasonable, but that is a political view, not a legal test. It is the latter that the judge will apply.

      The reporting of the issues in last weeks case seemed to focus on the broad issues of climate change, rather on whether the government had complied with its own legislation, though the legal argument for Sarah Thomson must have got to that point for there even to be an arguable case.

      Fundamentally if the public of New Zealand want a Green party prescription to solve climate change, they have to vote Green. That is a political choice, not a legal one.

      • McFlock 1.1.1

        I don’t really have a problem with legal challenges, unless it smacks more of wealthy people trying to bankrupt their opposition through appeal after appeal (or the occasional dickhead using the trial as another was to victimise their survivors).

        Usually, our courts produce reasonably sane judgements (if not always ones I agree with). So I don’t think the court will likely set a zero-carbon-by-next-year target or whatever. I think the worst it’ll do, if the case is valid, is kick back the targets to government to have another look at (i.e., under this government, repeat broadly the same targets but add a couple of sentences to take Treaty issues into account).

  2. roy cartland 2

    Power to them!

  3. jcuknz 3

    I do not see any point in crippling the country’s economic standard simply for grand standing points. What NZ does will have little effect on the world. I firmly believe in global warming but, to quote a saying, see little point in cutting off our nose to smite our face. Like the USA we should forget about the Paris talkfest but do what we can to avoid emissions without self harm as a country.

    • gsays 3.1

      So jcuknz, how do you suggest we “do what we can to avoid emissions without self harm as a country” without “crippling the country’s economic standard simply for grand standing points”?

      Vegetarianism, BIG tax on air travel, ditch private vehicle….?

      By grandstanding do you mean show leadership?

      • garibaldi 3.1.1

        What a cop out jcuknz. Let’s get this straight. You agree cc is a massive problem so your solution is to do nothing . Yeah, that’ll work won’t it? Welcome to the world of Capitalism. Humans are so incredibly dumb.

    • Carolyn_nth 3.2

      LOL. First you want an exemption because we are just a small part of the global community; then you want us to do like the US – big, highly populated country, and major world polluter.

      No country is exempt from the impact of climate change – we’re all in this together, and each little bit helps.

      Climate change denial takes many forms.

    • weka 3.3

      “What NZ does will have little effect on the world.”

      According to Sarah Thomson, the small emitters account for 1/3 of global emissions. If they don’t also reduce we’re fucked, us here in NZ as well as everywhere else.

    • jcuknz, and others of his ilk love to claim that “warmists” argue emotionally and that doing so shows they are anti-science. Jcuknz’ use of the phrase, “cutting off our nose to spite our face” “crippling the country’s economic standing…” and “without self harm as a country” show where the emotional arguments are really coming from.

    • Macro 3.5

      Have you any idea of just what the cost is going to be when sea level rise hits 1m? And before you say that that is centuries away – think again, and do a little research. The data coming in day by day suggests SLR is accelerating year by year, and its not just Greenland we have to worry about it’s Antarctica as well.
      There are 15,000 in the Pacific who are NZ’s responsibility and their homes are under immediate threat from SLR.
      Drought conditions with continued global warming will also intensify, and that hits our primary industry – farming – causing billions of dollars in lost production.
      Overlooking the costs of doing nothing is a serious mistake, made by all those like yourself, who simply look at the “cost” of doing something.

  4. John Stowell 4

    Of course New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are small on a world scale, but they are relatively large per head of population. Also, setting an example can do as much as the actual reductions. The idea that emission reductions equates directly to economic damage is misguided. Shifting the economy to a sustainable and low carbon base is perfectly possibly and can be achieved without mass gloom. Of course it will be a different economy, and that is probably what people are afraid of.

  5. Bill 5

    The current targets are a long way behind what we think New Zealand should do, as a developed nation, under the Paris Agreement.

    Interesting that “as a developed nation” is included there. Could it be that the Mataatua District Māori Council is going to run on a hard Annex 1/ Annex 2, equity and science based argument?

    If that’s the case, it would be well worth keeping abreast of.

    • Poission 5.1

      Not understanding the Paris agreement is problematic.

      Bravo Young Nats – endorse zero carbon

      • Bill 5.1.1

        Nope. That reply and the link bears no relation to the comment I’ve just made.

        • Poission

          Yes it does ,as the current target is yet to be assessed using science based metrics ie Full carbon accounting.

          • Bill

            “Science based metrics” and “full carbon accounting” having no place for fantasies around such things as non-existent technology then? Nah.

            So that’s two replies to a comment that are utterly different to one another bar having nothing to do with comment being replied to.

            Want a third go?

    • weka 5.2

      Interestingly I couldn’t find anything other than the Stuff article about it.

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