Saturday, May 25, 2024

High Court backs Climate Change Commission advice

The High Court has today confirmed the legality of the advice provided by the Climate Change Commission (the Commission) to inform New Zealand’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) and the first three emissions budgets. 

Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw said the decision means New Zealanders can have confidence in the Commission and of the Government’s plans to tackle climate change.

“The non-political Climate Change Commission is a critical part of the legislative framework we have put in place to drive climate action across successive governments and generations,” said Mr Shaw.

“I have always regarded the advice it has provided the Government as exceptionally high quality – based on rigorous science and expert analysis. Today’s ruling confirms that,” he said.

The court case was brought by Lawyers for Climate Action NZ Inc and concerned the calculations and accounting methods the Commission used to formulate its advice. That advice informed the Government’s decision last year to amend New Zealand’s NDC for 2021 to 2030 as part of our international obligations under the Paris Agreement.

“I don’t believe the intention of these proceedings was ever to slow down or derail our response to climate change. Rather, it was a way of testing the system, making sure we had the settings right. And I think that’s actually very healthy,” said Minister Shaw.

“This particular case has highlighted some potential points of confusion in the way we have set our targets, and that’s something I will be looking into regardless of the outcome. 

“Having just returned from COP27 in Egypt, where progress was as frustratingly slow as ever, my focus is now squarely on the need for urgent domestic action to cut emissions, limit warming, and prepare for the climate impacts we cannot avoid. 

“The transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future is a one-in-a-generation opportunity to build an Aotearoa that is cleaner, fairer and more prosperous than it is today – we just need to get on and make it happen,” he said.

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