New Zealand’s Defective Law on Climate Change

23 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2015 Last revised: 2 Feb 2016

See all articles by Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 16, 2015


The article describes the world-wide efforts or the lack thereof to combat climate change in the last 25 years. The article asks whether the world has to wait until the adversity actually sets in before effective action is taken; whether the failure to act is caused because people have not yet felt the adversity of climate change and will not sanction serious action until the consequences are evident to them. If that is so, will it then be too late to mitigate global warming? The article explores those questions and makes some hopeful suggestions as to what can be done to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions. The article examines the state of New Zealand law on climate change and the approach New Zealand is taking to international negotiations.

Keywords: Climate change, environmental law, New Zealand, global warming, international law, carbon emissions

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Palmer QC, Sir Geoffrey, New Zealand’s Defective Law on Climate Change (February 16, 2015). (2015) 13 NZJPIL; Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper No. 8/2016. Available at SSRN:

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

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