Unexpected hero – student battles Government in court on climate change

26 June 2017

In a David Goliath battle law student, Sarah Thomson is in the high court this week arguing the government is inadequately responding to climate change. It’s a hard argument to counter, and whatever the outcome it’s clear that the government will need to consider its climate change policy very carefully to avoid a stream of legal actions.

The Huffington Post carried this story on Wednesday.

Sarah has a strong case; New Zealand’s commitments are woefully out of step with the rest of the world. The consequences of climate change are projected to be severe for this country, with weather events beating our shores, affecting agriculture as well as infrastructure and buildings and the strong likelihood of large influxes of refugees seeking a place to live. Already Sigeo Alesana from Tuvalu has won the right to asylum in New Zealand for himself and his family on “exceptional humanitarian grounds”.

This is not just a New Zealand phenomenon. In Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Pakistan and the US people are going to trial to make the case for more action. And not just suits against governments, corporates are also being taken to court.

Lawsuits are becoming an increasingly effective way to to bring governments to account. Hoorah for campaigners like Sarah who are willing to step forward for our future.

Serious about its targets, World Green Building Council has set the challenge for all buildings to be net-zero by 2050. #OurHeroIsZero is the tagline for World Green Building Week 2017.

In our Policy Plan For the Built Environment NZGBC will be calling on Government to provide certainty for the sector at a national level by setting a trajectory for buildings and homes (new build and existing) to get to zero carbon. It is recommended that this policy include interim targets for 2020 and 2030 and a national working group is established to develop the proposals.

What can you do?

Small actions: Celebrate World Green Building Week 26 Sept-1 October and spread the message. There’s a bank of resources available and a Hero Action Map where you can plot what you are up to. We’ll be holding celebrations too.

Larger actions: Our certification and rating systems of Green Star, Homestar, NABERSNZ, Green Star Performance, Green Star Communities ALL drive measurement as well as improved performance from buildings and communities, and encourage really innovative and radical solutions to the climate challenge. In particular Green Star Performance now means ANY existing building can be rated. That means your office, factory, retail outlet or even petrol station. Cool eh. Do get in touch.

We thank you for supporting us through membership, we ask you to be active in your membership, use our resources, celebrate World Green Building Week #OurHeroIsZero, use the rating tools, the solutions are here, the quicker the uptake the better.