Thursday, November 02, 2017

Climate change: Reviewed

Earlier in the year, law student Sarah Thompson took the government to court over its climate change targets. The High Court has finally released its judgement, and ruled that National should have reviewed its 2050 target to match scientific reality:

The previous National-led government failed to take appropriate action over some of its climate change emissions targets, according to the High Court, but it won't face any consequences because it's no longer in power.

Justice Jillian Mallon released her decision on Thursday after Waikato law student Sarah Thomson took former Environment Minister Paula Bennett to court in June over alleged inadequate action to address emissions targets.

The High Court dismissed the judicial review. But in her written decision, Justice Mallon acknowledged that when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fifth assessment reports in 2014, the Government failed to undertake a satisfactory review of its 2050 emissions targets.

"However this cause of action has been overtaken by subsequent events," Justice Mallon said.

Because National lost power at the last election, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's new Labour-led government had already announced its intention to set a new 2050 target, court-ordered relief was ruled unnecessary.

So, that's a victory. And there's also a partial victory on the 2030 target, in that while the court didn't find that it was irrational or needed review, it did find that it was reviewable - meaning that future international targets can be challenged in court for unreasonableness if they fail to reflect scientific reality.

The full judgement is here.