9 May 2023

Climate Change Minister taken to court over emissions trading scheme Cabinet decision

5:41 pm on 9 May 2023
James Shaw

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

A group of lawyers is taking the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw to court over a Cabinet decision about the emissions trading scheme.

The Lawyers for Climate Action (LCANZI) today filed for a judicial review in the High Court.

The group argues the scheme's current settings are not consistent with New Zealand's emissions reduction targets.

It stems from a Cabinet decision late last year to reject advice from the Climate Change Commission that would allow the carbon price to rise, citing the cost of living.

Since then the carbon price has tanked, causing a $1.2 billion hit to government revenue.

The group said the decision also makes available at low prices an additional 35 million units over the next five years.

That was more than one year's worth of emissions for sectors within the ETS.

"By law the settings must be in accordance with our emissions budgets, our [international pledges] ... and the 2050 net zero target," the group said.

"LCANZI's judicial review claims that in overriding the recommendations from the Commission and the minister, Cabinet failed to address whether the settings were in accordance with the emissions budgets and the [international pledges].

"Instead the decision was driven by concerns that rising ETS unit prices would flow through to households.

"LCANZI seeks a declaration from the court that the regulations are inconsistent with the Climate Change Response Act, and an order that the regulations be remade."

While Shaw was not part of Cabinet, and had recommended Cabinet follow the Commission's advice, the group said it was taking action against the minister as he was ultimately responsible.

The group has previously taken unsuccessful legal action against the Climate Change Commission.

Shaw said via a statement: "I am aware of the claim filed by Lawyers For Climate Action. As the matter is before the courts, I can't comment further, but it is important that citizens have the right to be heard".

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