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National climate target to be tested

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/06/2017

New Zealand politics will again hit the courtrooms in Wellington next week when a Hamilton student takes legal action over the government's climate policy.

Sarah Thomson, 26, is set to have her time in court in a hearing starting Monday, taking aim at Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett over National's "failure" to meet Paris Climate Agreement targets.

The lawsuit was first launched in 2015 when then prime minister John Key dismissed it as "a joke".

"If we're getting sued, I hate to think what's going to happen to the United States and Australia and other countries because their climate change targets are lower than ours," he said.

New Zealand has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 11 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 as part of the Paris Climate Agreement.

But Ms Thomson said New Zealand had an obligation to set an ambitious target.

A three day hearing is set to begin in the Wellington High Court on Monday with the court to consider wither emissions targets, set by Ms Bennett, are lawful and reasonable.

"On the issue of climate change, the New Zealand government has been persistently evasive," Ms Thomson said.

"In court it will have to justify its inaction on climate change before a judge and before the New Zealand public."

Ms Bennett's statement of defence reportedly denies the government needs to set stronger targets.

Her office confirmed to NZ Newswire on Tuesday that Ms Bennett would not be attending the hearing.

It will be the fourth time this year an MP or political party has been a defendant in a court case.

Labour leader Andrew Little escaped consequence during defamation proceedings brought by Earl and Lani Hagaman while National MP Chester Borrows was found not guilty of careless driving in May.

The National Party also found itself in court, being sued over a backing track in a 2014 campaign ad that was alleged to be an unlicensed version of Eminem's Lose Yourself.

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