A law graduate from the University of Waikato is suing the Government over its emissions reduction targets.

Sarah Thomson, 24, has filed judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser, claiming the targets don't go far enough to combat climate change, and as such he has failed as minister.

The motion means New Zealand's High Court will be required to review the legality and reasonableness of the Government's emissions reduction targets.

Ms Thomson has filed this lawsuit in light of the upcoming United Nations climate conference in Paris.


Governments from around the world will be meeting there to agree on a new strategy to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

It also follows the actions of a group of Dutch citizens in June, who successfully sued their government for failure in regards to climate change policy.

"All the world's scientists agree that climate change is real, that humans are causing it, and that urgent action is needed, but I can't see our Government taking it seriously," says Thomson.

"The science shows that New Zealand's emissions targets just aren't good enough to avoid dangerous climate change. Scientists agree that the reductions are too small and will take too long."

Thomson recognises that New Zealand is a small nation, but believes all countries need to take serious action on climate change.

"The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that we have signed up to recognises that developed countries need to take the lead on cutting emissions. New Zealand could be an international leader in taking action on climate change," she says.

"Instead, we currently produce some of the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions per person in the world. The Government seems to have no real plan to change this. How can we ask other countries to clean up if we won't?

"I'm concerned about climate change and what it will mean for me and my children in the future. Like many New Zealanders, I look forward to the experience of having a family of my own. I want to bring my children up in a safe world, where they can live without fear and enjoy all the amazing natural wonders that our planet has to offer. That's why I decided to bring this case. I just felt I had to do something. I want to be able to look my children in the eye and say that I didn't just stand by and watch this happen."


Thomson says the Government's feeble commitment to combating climate change has made her want to work against it herself, and she is calling for other people to do this too.

"In order to solve the problem of climate change, we need a collective effort. We need as many people as possible to stand up and voice their concerns on the issue. The more people we have out there doing something, the better chance of success we will have", Thomson says.

"We can still do something to slow climate change down, but we have to do it now."

Thomson's case will go before the High Court in Wellington.

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