Hauraki Coromandel Climate Case May Impact Central Government Climate Decisions?

The successful legal case taken by Hauraki Coromandel Climate Action against Thames-Coromandel District Council is reverberating through the corridors of power – not just for local councils but also for central government.

In the HCCA case the Court ruled that “the potential and likely effects of climate change, and the measures required to mitigate those effects, are of the highest public importance” and ruled that “the intensity of review of decisions about climate change by public decision-makers is similar to that for fundamental human rights”

Thames-Coromandel District Council was ordered by the court to reconsider its decision not to sign the Local Government New Zealand Declaration on Climate Change.  A majority of the Council required a response to the court judgement by the end of April, out voting the mayor and two councillors who wish to see that report delayed until August.

Now, commentary in the New Zealand Law Society publication “Law Talk” raises the possibility that central government could also be held to account if it fails to take strong urgent climate action as it promised in its own climate emergency declaration which said..

In a recent presentation to Auckland City’s Planning Committee Jenny Cooper QC representing over 300 lawyers belonging to Lawyers for Climate Action cited the Hauraki  Coromandel Climate Action case.  She told the committee that our case was a strong legal precedent for legally holding local authorities to account if they failed to take strong climate action – for example if Auckland City allowed transport emissions to rise by 2030 when their Climate Action Plan had a target of a 64% reduction by that date. ¶

The message here is clear – never underestimate the power of a small number of dedicated climate activists to profoundly impact decision-making at both the local and central government level.