Friday, February 05, 2021

Climate Change: Legal actions

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.