Thursday, August 25, 2022

Climate Change: The courts fail again

Last year, two-faced Labour, having declared a climate change emergency, approved further gas exploration in Taranaki. The decision was challenged by Students for Climate Solutions, using the Zero Carbon Act's "permissive consideration" clause. The purpose of this clause was to make all levels of government consider climate change in decision-making. But according to the court, it isn't worth shit:

Justice Francis Cooke agreed that, at least under Te Tiriti, climate impacts “can become relevant”. But it would be unlawful to place substantive weight on climate change, he concluded. Because these issues are being addressed in other ways, Cooke dismissed the judicial review.


Cooke also dismissed the argument that a section within the Zero Carbon Act allows or compels a minister to consider Aotearoa’s climate goals when making decisions relating to other legislation.

It states: “If they think fit, a person or body may, in exercising or performing a public function, power, or duty conferred on that person or body by or under law, take into account: the 2050 target, or an emissions budget, or an emissions reduction plan.”

Cooke thought Parliament would need to “more precisely” edit the Crown Minerals Act itself.

That looks like a ripe target for an appeal, and maybe Students for Climate Solutions will go down that path. But its not guaranteed to be successful. And effectively, what the judge is telling us is that Labour failed us when they refused to change that "may" to a "must", and that we need to pass Eugenie Sage's Crown Minerals (Prohibition of Mining) Amendment Bill (or something very much like it) as quickly as possible.