Scientists back student suing government

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Two leading scientists have announced they will back Sarah Thomson in her case against the government over New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets.

Former NASA climate scientist James Hansen and Victoria University Professor James Renwick will give expert evidence that the targets are inadequate to avoid dangerous climate change.

Earlier this month, Thomson filed judicial review proceedings against climate minister Tim Groser, claiming he had failed in his ministerial duties in setting what she believes to be an inadequate emissions reduction target, backed by law firm LeeSalmonLong.

Hansen said that even if New Zealand’s target was “achieved through actual reductions (and not merely through paper accounting gimmicks), the intention is insufficiently ambitious”.

“We will not preserve a habitable climate system unless developed nations act without further delay, both to phase out their own carbon emissions and to aid the balance of nations in the development of their own carbon and energy sources,” he said. 

“It is critical that New Zealand be brought to do its part.”

According to Thomson, the involvement on two high profile scientists is testament to the importance of the case.

“The fact that the world’s leading climate scientist has taken time out of an incredibly busy schedule to give evidence illustrates just how much New Zealand’s inadequate response to climate change is being noticed internationally,” she said.

New Zealand’s proposed target was widely criticised by environmentalists for being weaker than previous targets.  Thomson wants to see the government take climate change more seriously.

“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 of the amazing natural wonders that our planet has to offer,” she said.

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