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Climate Change Law

Responding to anthropogenic climate change has become a theme of the twenty-first century. With extensive literature, the birth of climate change law has arrived.1 Conveniently, the response to climate change is divided between mitigating climate change and climate change adaptation. Mitigating climate change is about reducing greenhouses gases. Climate change adaptation is about adjusting to the effects of climate change. As this website is based to a large extent on my 2012 LLM thesis “The Law of Climate Change Mitigation in New Zealand”, the website has a disproportionate focus on mitigation solutions. Despite its significance, climate change adaptation remains an under researched area in New Zealand law.There are also a number of other legal areas relating to climate change which need further researchas they pertain to New Zealand. In this respect, I hope this website fills a gap in the existing literature and therefore I readily invite contributions on novel subjects.

This website is designed to provide a platform for the critical reappraisal of how legal mechanisms in New Zealand support and undermine efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It is decidedly pragmatic and can be broken into three subsidiary aims. The dominant objective is to provide an analysis of New Zealand law which mitigates and adapts to climate change. A second objective is to compare and contrast New Zealand’s legal framework with the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States. Finally, proposals for legislative reform are submitted where New Zealand law could change to mitigate further greenhouse gas emissions and better adapt to climate change.

In the future, climate change promises to permeate every area of law. It is already testing traditional legal boundaries. The change from a society that is dependent on fossil fuels to one that utilises renewable resources will be demanding. At the same time as all levels of society from corporations to consumers mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the law is digesting the fact that present economic wellbeing is not the only aspect to sustainability. It follows that ensuring equity between present and future generations necessitates a continuing sustainable focus. While there are many ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in the end this website is designed to ensure that New Zealand law helps rather than hinders these societal, political and economic challenges.

1. Jacqueline Peel “Climate Change Law: The Emergence of a New Legal Discipline” (2008) 32 Melb U L Rev 922.