Some of our leading authorities on climate change have been named as members of a new state watchdog to help guide governments through a warming future.

Earlier this year, it was announced that former Reserve Bank chairman and University of Canterbury vice-chancellor Dr Rod Carr would lead the new Climate Change Commission, with Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere (director) Lisa Tumahai serving as deputy.

Joining them on the commission is arguably New Zealand's most visible climate scientist, Professor James Renwick; his Victoria University colleague, and a noted expert in climate adaptation, Dr Judy Lawrence; and Catherine Leining, a top economist on climate policy and emissions pricing systems with Wellington's Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.

The two other members are Dr Harry Clark, director of the Palmerston North-based New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, and Professor Nicola Shadbolt, a farmer, company director and academic at Massey University.


The independent commission, which takes over from the Interim Climate Change Committee, is tasked with monitoring and reviewing governments' progress towards emissions reduction and adaptation goals.

Former Reserve Bank chairman Dr Rod Carr will lead New Zealand's new Climate Change Commission. Photo / File
Former Reserve Bank chairman Dr Rod Carr will lead New Zealand's new Climate Change Commission. Photo / File

"Some issues are too big for politics, and the biggest of all is the climate crisis we face," Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.

"Our decision to create the Climate Change Commission was about protecting climate policy from political mood swings, meaning every future government can stay focused on the job at hand: to help solve climate change and make our communities are cleaner and healthier."

Shaw said setting up the commission was one of the most important parts of the new Zero Carbon Act.

"We provided a bold legislative framework for what we need to do build a climate-friendly future for New Zealand; it is the Commission who will now advise us on how best to do that."

While an advisory body, Shaw said he expected the commission's rigorous analysis would help keep future governments' climate policy in check.