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Court Backs NIWA On Climate Record

Court Backs NIWA On Climate Record

A judicial review of NIWA's climate science and its use has found in favour of NIWA. The judgment is on the courts website and at NZ_Climate_Science_v_NIWA.pdf.

NIWA's "seven station" series suggests New Zealand has warmed by about 0.9 degrees in the century up to 2009. A peer review of their methodology release in December 2010 found "the results and underlying methodology used by NIWA were sound".

The court action was begun in 2010 by the "NZ Climate Science Education Trust", a group associated with the New Zealand Climate Science coalition. As initially announced, it asked the court:

A: to set aside NIWA's decisions to rely upon its Seven Station Series (7SS) and Eleven Station Series (11SS), and to find the current NZTR to be invalid

B: to prevent NIWA from using the current NZTR (or information originally derived from it) for the purpose of advice to any governmental authority or to the public

C: to require NIWA to produce a full and accurate NZTR.

Justice Venning's judgment concludes:

[185] The plaintiff does not succeed on any of its challenges to the three decisions of NIWA in issue. The application for judicial review is dismissed and judgment entered for the defendant.

[186] The defendant is entitled to costs. Given the time involved and the steps taken, costs on a category 2 time band C would seem appropriate. However, if the parties are unable to agree I will receive memoranda and deal with the issue of costs on the basis of such memoranda.

[Further notes on the judgment at Hot Topic.]

A group of NZ climate scientists has welcomed the decision. Associate Professor James Renwick of Victoria University said, “Scientific analysis and discussion is carried out through the peer-reviewed literature. The basic science of climate change (global warming) has been established for well over a century, and almost all scientists active in climate research agree that human activity is causing the climate to change. For a small group of scientists to appeal to a court of law to find otherwise is bizarre.”

Earlier this year a US federal appeal court ruling upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's power to regulate greenhouse gasses. The ruling noted "EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question."

NZ Climate Science Education Trust was registered on 10 August 2010, at the time (or after) the action was being filed. Its trust deed is available here (PDF). It is unclear what costs will able to be recovered by NIWA.



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