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Iwi leader to sue Govt over climate change

Press Release

Iwi leader to sue Govt over climate change

Tuesday, 16 July, 2019

The Government is being sued for its failure to protect Māori from climate change, in a new High Court proceeding filed today.

Chair of the Climate Change Iwi Leaders Group, Mike Smith (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu), made the announcement today while speaking at the release of the Interim Climate Change Commission report.

“I am filing these proceedings as a private individual and on behalf of my children, grandchildren and the future generations of Māori children, whose lives are threatened by the climate crisis,” says Smith, “the Crown is failing to protect all New Zealanders, but especially Māori, from catastrophic effects of climate change.”

Smith is alleging that the Government has failed in its duty under the Treaty of Waitangi in not doing everything it can to protect Māori from the adverse effects of climate change.

“Māori are particularly vulnerable to climate change, being disproportionately represented amongst the poor, who will be the hardest hit. Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, flooding and storm surges will irrevocably damage low lying coastal communities, and warming oceans and ocean acidification will damage traditional resources, including fisheries.

“The Government has duties under the Treaty to actively protect Māori, and that means doing everything it can to stop these harmful impacts.”

During his speech, Smith acknowledged the Government’s efforts in the proposed Zero Carbon Bill, but said steps to tackle climate change do not go far enough and he is asking the Courts to intervene.

“The urgency of climate change means we need far greater action and we need it now,” he says.

“It’s not good enough just to set far off targets, especially ones that let our biggest polluters like the agricultural sector off the hook so they can have a bit more time to turn a profit. The fact is we are out of time and are now looking at damage control.”

The case against the Crown is brought by Mike Smith, in his personal capacity, advancing interests shared by all Māori. It argues breaches of duty under the Treaty of Waitangi, the Bill of Rights Act and the general law, and seeks a declaration that the Crown will be in breach of duties owed to Māori unless it reduces total greenhouse gases by half by 2030 and to zero by 2050.

ENDS


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