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Climate Change

The evidence is compelling (and overwhelming). Every sector of society and the economy will be affected (fundamentally in some cases) by climate change. 

2019’s major development is the introduction of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, the Government’s key response to our international obligations. The Bill's intention is to commit New Zealand to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner - in a way that is fair and equitable. The Bill also establishes an independent Climate Change Commission. The Emissions Trading Scheme is also being amended in a way that is intended to drive economic decisions that respond to climate change.

Businesses should be considering the implications now. The Climate Change Commission will be tasked with setting carbon budgets, against which New Zealand must perform. Any business that produces, or is even remotely reliant on emissions will be affected by these budgets, with price rises being a likely consequence.

Our April 2019 report 'Climate Change - Preparing for the Future' provides more information on the likely impacts of climate change, and what business leaders hould be focusing on. 

How we can help

The legal environment of climate change demands a broad spectrum of specialist expertise. Our multi-disciplinary team - including commercial, environmental, infrastructure, public law and finance lawyers - is helping clients adapt to the challenges and opportunities of climate change. Our team is led by Mark Baker-Jones, a leading climate change lawyer and policy adviser who joined us in mid 2019.

For many years we have advised local and international clients extensively around New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), including entry, compliance and establishing trading arrangements.

We work with clients across a number of key sectors and areas, including:

  • Emission-heavy sectors (such as farming and transport). Assisting clients to manage the need to reduce emissions. Key contacts: Greg Allen, Nick Wilson, Victoria Anderson, Joanna Lim.
  • Energy. Advising on issues relating to the transition towards renewable energy sources, and the infrastructure and investment required to facilitate this. Key contacts: Don Holborow, Sarah Scott, Chris Browne, Joanna Lim.
  • Forestry. Helping clients (including Iwi) take advantage of opportunities around permanent forests and carbon farming. Key contacts: Greg Allen, Victoria Anderson, Joanna Lim, Nick Wilson.
  • Finance. Advising on issues such as green financing. Key contacts: Josh Cairns and Mace Gorringe.
  • Insurance. Helping both insurers and insured organisations on issues relating to climate change risk. Key contact: Helen Smith.
  • Local government. Advising on legal and regulatory issues around natural hazard risks, including the challenges associated with infrastructure in coastal and flood-prone areas. Key contacts: Gerald Lanning, Matt Conway and Sarah Scott.

Generally, we work with a range of organisations on issues relating to climate change. In particular, we advise business leaders on what they need to be considering in terms of corporate governance and business risk, and directors on how this issue impacts on their duty of care.