On July 1, 2021, a group of hundreds of New Zealand lawyers sued the country's Climate Change Commission and the Minister for Climate Change alleging that the Commission's recommendations to the Minister violated New Zealand law and the Paris Agreement. Plaintiffs allege that the Commission's carbon budgets are inconsistent with holding warming to 1.5C, that it understated required emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement by applying the IPCC's pathways to gross rather than net CO2 emissions, and that the commission unlawfully relies on the uncertain prospect of paying other countries to reduce their emissions. Together, these actions violated New Zealand's Climate Change Response Act and its obligations under the Paris Agreement.
On November 3, 2021, the applicants filed an amended statement of claim, to also challenge New Zealand's updated first nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement to the extent that it relies on the Commission's NDC advice. The applicants seek relief including orders that the Commission re-consider the first three emissions budgets and their advice relating to the 2030 NDC, and that the Minister re-consider the updated NDC.
The hearing took place from 28 February to 3 March 2022.