Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

New Zealand law student launches climate change court case

New Zealand law student launches climate change court case

The 26 year old University of Waikato law student is arguing New Zealand did not properly consider scientific evidence when setting its climate emissions targets.

A student from Hamilton is getting her day in Court today as she takes on the government over its climate change policies.

A rally supporting Sarah Thomson's climate change case against the Minister for Climate Change Issues was due to start at 9:30 am outside the Wellington High Court in Molesworth Street today.

Thomson says she made a decision to launch the lawsuit two years ago after becoming "terrified" about what her future could look like.

"Climate change is a global issue affecting us here and now, and we all have a responsibility to act. She is showing and helping provide that forum where we can all come together and say we need to work together urgently".

"As a young person with my future on the line here, I'm terrified at how blasé our Government's response to climate change has been".

The government recognises the need for every country to act to stabilise greenhouse gases and prevent the consequences of climate change, crown lawyers have told the High Court in Wellington.

The case has the backing of several world-renowned climate change experts, including the "father of climate change awareness", former NASA researcher, James Hansen, who is a witness for the case.

In a statement, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett defended the government's target, saying New Zealand's 'Paris target is fair and ambitious, and that it was set only after a thorough process of consultation'.

One of the targets under review is New Zealand's Paris Agreement commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

"New Zealand has to be a part of global action". The lawsuit will ask the Minister for Climate Change Issues, now Paula Bennett, to justify the way in which this target was set.

The Government has told the High Court in Wellington that there's "no quick fix for climate change".

Greenpeace New Zealand has helped organise a public mobilisation in support of Thomson, which is taking place this morning on the steps of the court.

"If New Zealand reduces emissions to zero there won't be any noticeable effect on climate change and we have to rely on the rest of the global community to achieve change".

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