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February 10, 2021
Courts of New Zealand

Climate Change in the High Court

Following an application by advocacy group Hauraki Coromandel Climate Action (HCCA), the High Court has held a decision by the Thames-Coromandel District Council not to approve the signing of the Local Government Leaders Climate Change Declaration was unlawful.  The Declaration made a series of commitments for councils to make to address climate change. The Council had declined to sign it because of concerns about potential legal liability and increased financial costs if it could not meet the commitments it contained.

The High Court held the decision was unlawful because it was inconsistent with the Local Government Act 2002.  The Council had failed properly to assess the significance of the decision in terms of its Significance and Engagement Policy, or to seek out and take into account the views of those most likely to be affected by the decision, as required under the Act.  While granting HCCA’s application on these grounds, however, the Court dismissed a more general challenge that the decision not to sign was unreasonable.

LeeSalmonLong acted for HCCA in the proceeding.  

The judgment can be found here.