Concerned Climate Lawyers Sue Climate Change Commission Over ‘Mathematical Errors’

climate change

Climate lawyers representing around 300 lawyers have issued proceedings against the Climate Change Commission, alleging its advice to the Government on carbon reductions contains mathematical errors.

Climate Action NZ filed its proceeding today and the full statement of claim may be seen here.

On Thursday, Lawyers for Climate Action NZ, an incorporated group which says it represents more than 300 lawyers, filed proceedings in the High Court arguing the commission’s advice does not comply with the legislation and understates the necessary reductions in greenhouse gases.

The CANZ press release said in its announcement on the climate change action as follows –

The grounds for the action are that the Commission’s advice does not comply with the Climate Change Response Act or with Aotearoa New Zealand’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. 

 LCANZI alleges that in the Commission’s final advice: 

  • the recommended emissions budgets do not meet the Commission’s own calculation of what is consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, as required by the Paris Agreement;
  • the accounting methods are inconsistent with the Climate Change Response Act, and make the budgets look more ambitious than they really are;
  • the calculations for the country’s nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement make a logical and mathematical error – and understate the required reductions in greenhouse gases;
  • the Commission is relying on the uncertain prospect of Aotearoa New Zealand being able to pay other countries to reduce their emissions, instead of making domestic reductions at the level required to meet the Paris Agreement obligations.

 President of LCANZI, Jenny Cooper QC says that “these errors need to be addressed if Aotearoa New Zealand is to meet its obligations and address climate change”.

 “The Climate Change Commission’s advice looks ambitious on a first glance. However, when you dig into the detail, it fails to adequately address the scale and urgency of the task and is inconsistent with the legislation and international agreements it is meant to address,” says Jenny Cooper QC.

 “There is scientific consensus that limiting warming to 1.5°C is essential to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It is also the agreed global goal under the Paris Agreement, and the purpose of the Climate Change Response Act. The Commission’s current advice does not meet this target.”

 “The Commission set a target for 2030 net carbon dioxide emissions by applying the specified percentage reductions to our 2010 gross carbon dioxide emissions. The result implies that our net carbon dioxide emissions can increase between 2010 and 2030 which is nonsensical.”

 LCANZI considers it imperative to clarify what the Climate Change Response Act requires of the Commission and the Minister in setting emissions budgets.

Concerned Climate Lawyers Sue Climate Change Commission Over 'Mathematical Errors' 1

LCANZI Treasurer James Every-Palmer QC (pictured, right) says:

“This is the first time that the budget-setting mechanisms of the Act are being used.  The purpose of this judicial review is to ensure that the Commission has clear guidance on what is required. 

 “It is essential that we are robust and transparent about where we sit relative to global reduction requirements. The Commission must focus on the science of limiting warming to 1.5°C and leave political feasibility to the politicians.” 

 LCANZI fully endorses the objectives of the Commission and  is seeking urgent action to reduce emissions. 

 “We do not want to slow down long overdue action to reduce emissions.Work to reduce emissions should not be delayed because of this litigation. However, it is important to get the budgets aligned with the science on what is required, or we will fail to achieve our goal of avoiding catastrophic climate change,” says Jenny Cooper QC.

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