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Climate action

By Steven | July 7, 2021

This isn’t about media law. It is much more important.

Lawyers for Climate Action NZ is seeking judicial review of the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations. It argues that the recommended cuts are not enough to contribute to keeping warming to 1.5 degrees as we’ve pledged to do in the Paris Accord. It also alleges that the Commission’s accounting measures are flawed and make our carbon picture look rosier than it is.

This may be the most important piece of litigation in any of our lifetimes.

I’m a member of LCANZI. All its work is voluntary. LCANZI is seeking donations to help hire an administrator to help manage this and other climate change projects. I encourage you to chip in. I have.


For what it’s worth, here is my submission on the Commission’s draft advice. I figure it’s important for people to talk about this.


24 March 2021


Dr Rod Carr


Climate Change Commission

PO Box 24448

Wellington 6142


Dear Dr Carr,


I am a barrister, an adjunct law lecturer at VUW, and a journalist. I do not have any expertise in climate science, though I have read widely on the issue. I am a member of Lawyers for Climate Action. I am also on the legal working group for NZ’s Extinction Rebellion. Over the years, I have hardly been a poster child for carbon restraint, but I now walk and bike more, buy second-hand more, drive an electric car, eat little meat or dairy products, and seldom take flights.

I make this submission in my personal capacity.

I am alarmed about climate change. It seems to me the only sensible response to what the scientists are saying.

I am by nature an optimistic person. But I am pessimistic about our ability to make the radical changes necessary to avoid catastrophe. It seems to me that it will require a massive and immediate international effort to turn things around, involving great investment and great sacrifices. I see very little evidence of that happening on anywhere near the necessary scale.

I have read the Commission’s draft advice.  I am not the best person to offer analysis, but it strikes me overall as a thoughtful stab at a difficult task. However, I think there is a sense in which the Commission has sought to recommend as little as we can get away with, and to look to minimise harm at the expense of the rapid change necessary.

I do not think this will be enough. I also do not think it is fair, internationally or inter-generationally.

I am also concerned that it is not lawful, for the reasons set out in the submission of Lawyers for Climate Action.

I urge that the Commission recommend much more ambitious and speedy targets and actions. Again, I agree with the caps recommended by LFCA. I think there should be more emphasis on government investment in buses, trains, cycling and walking, on reducing waste, on reducing agricultural emissions (with support for farmers) and less dependence on offshore mitigation. I support a carbon tax.

I am not sure whether this is really your role, but I also think there must be much more emphasis on girding the country for this task and trying to get everybody on board. I’d like to see a country where we as a people are proud to take responsibility for the sacrifices that need to be made.

I am 53. I’m well-off and living in New Zealand, which is not facing the worst impacts of climate change. I figure I’m going to be dead before this really bites. I feel vaguely guilty for that. Climate change is not really my problem. But we need leaders to step up and make it my problem or the planet is doomed.


Yours faithfully,


Steven Price

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