New Zealand law student launches climate change court case

Thomson with her supporters outside court

Waikato University student Sarah Thomson said outside the High Court at Wellington on Monday: "I feel a lot of people have their hopes on this, because a lot of people want to see change".

This morning from 9am there will be a public mobilisation outside the High Court in support of the case.

It follows other successful court challenges on climate change overseas.

New Zealand needs to think about its climate change goals in a global context, lawyers defending the government's policies have told a court. Every year we're experiencing more extreme weather events, including cyclones, droughts and floods, which are leaving entire communities devastated. "I want them to actually care about the future of young New Zealanders because we're the ones who are going to be dealing with the consequences".

Thomson says she's been inspired by climate change litigation around the globe, including the 900 Dutch citizens who filed a case the Dutch Government and a case in the U.S. where 21 kids are suing the Federal Government.

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. "New Zealand must play its part and ramp up its emissions reduction goals urgently".

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The Government's current target is an 11 per cent reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by 2030.

A win would mean the NZ Government would have to go back to the drawing board when it comes to setting climate emissions targets under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Mr Gunn said the government did not want to minimise New Zealand's actions, however the country "cannot do it on our own". 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 argued in court filings that the Paris agreement is the best way to address climate change on a global level, and that New Zealand is such a small nation that even if it stopped its emissions entirely it wouldn't make a noticeable difference.

Sarah Thomson, a 26-year-old law student from Hamilton, is seeking a judicial review of the Government's position of climate change.

Sarah Thomson, 26, claims that as a developed country, New Zealand has an obligation under the Paris Agreement to set a target in line with the scientific consensus.