Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Climate Change: Suing for a future

Back in May, the International Energy Agency, traditionally a pro drilling and digging organisation, called time on fossil fuels, saying that exploration must stop immediately and no new projects can be approved if we are to avoid burning the planet. Despite this, in June Energy Minister Megan Woods approved two more permits for oil exploration in Taranaki. Its an irrational decision completely at odds with the international advice on how to meet our climate change obligations. And now, a group of students are going to court to get it overturned:

Students are taking the Government to court for approving new oil and gas exploration.

A major energy report by the International Energy Agency says exploration permits must end immediately to keep global heating inside 1.5 degrees Celsius, yet the Government this year granted new onshore permits, saying it was fulfilling a promise made when it banned offshore exploration.

Students for Climate Solutions served Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods​ with the lawsuit, as the UN climate summit continued in Glasgow.


The lawsuit alleges the minister “erred in law” by granting oil and gas permits to Greymouth Gas Turangi and Riverside Energy.

The group hopes the court will declare the decision to grant the permits unlawful and quash them. In addition, they are asking the court to declare the minister acted unreasonably.

From the sound of it it looks like this will be relying on the Zero Carbon Act's clause allowing decision-makers to consider climate change. NZPAM's advice to the Minister to approve the permits purported to consider climate change, but actually took the piss, claiming that as any oil found would likely be burned offshore it wouldn't count and that our 2050 greenhouse gas target has nothing to do with emissions anyway. Which might sound fine to an agency totally captured by the fossil fuel industry, but to the rest of us makes it sound like NZPAM has been huffing their captors' product. Hopefully this poor quality advice will see the permits overturned; if not, at least it will raise the cost to the government and the industry of trying to drill further, while hopefully delaying any exploration until the politicians can just ban it.