In 2022, Students for Climate Solutions brought a case against the Minister of Energy and Resources. The plaintiff argued that the defendant Minister, in granting petroleum exploration permits under the Crown Minerals Act 1991 (CMA), had failed to adequately consider the effects of the exploration on climate change. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that: (1) climate change was a mandatory relevant consideration for the purposes of New Zealand administrative law; (2) that the failure to consider climate change rendered the decision unreasonable; and (3) that the minister had failed to have proper regard for the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document.
The Court rejected all three grounds of review. On the first ground, the Court found that the CMA was intended in part to promote the exploitation of natural resources, and that climate considerations were absent from the statutory scheme (which was instead designed to promote fossil fuel mining). Secondly, the Court found that the Minister’s decision was not unreasonable. And finally, the Court found that the decision did not violate principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Court accepted that the CMA should be interpreted, as far as possible, consistently with Treaty principles. However, in this case the Court found that the Minister sufficiently considered such principles, and they had been appropriately weighed against other factors – the Minister was not required to engage in any broader policy assessment. The Court also expressed concern that the relevant Māori authorities were not represented in the proceedings.
The Court also made general observations about the significance of climate change in the scrutiny of judicial review applied under New Zealand law. The Court both rejected a submission by the plaintiff that a more intense level of scrutiny was necessary, as well as a submission by the defendant that greater deference should be applied given the complex nature of climate change.
|08/24/2022||Decision||Download||No summary available.|