Climate Change

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Solutions for the future

In this critical decade, climate change is a key priority for governments and private sector organisations, as they seek to grapple with the significant systemic and individual risks associated with climate change and take advantage of the opportunities presented by a transition to a low-emissions future. In Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ), continued regulatory and policy change along with shifting consumer attitudes are increasing pressure on organisations to put in place comprehensive transition plans. This cuts across all industries and sectors, making a joined-up approach to problem solving essential.
For an organisation, transitioning to a low-emissions future requires a cohesive, holistic assessment of climate risks and opportunities across the whole business model, and the creation of a pathway that finds the balance between profitability, accountability, and sustainability. It requires a detailed understanding of both the extent to which an organisation can contribute to mitigation efforts, and how it needs to adapt to meet the inevitable changes associated with climate change. It requires the integration of considerations across a wide range of functions, including finance, operations, supply / procurement, legal and external relations.
To assist organisations in meeting the many issues arising in this fast-paced area, Russell McVeagh has formed an alliance with climate change advisory firm, Te Whakahaere, weaving together the talents and experience of our firms to expand the services we collectively offer clients in this space. Through the alliance, Russell McVeagh's legal experts will be working closely alongside Te Whakahaere's Mark Baker-Jones (Ngāpuhi, Ngāruahine) and Melanie Baker-Jones, who together have been working with business and government to address climate change for close to 20 years.
Together, Russell McVeagh and Te Whakahaere can support clients with a range of climate advisory and legal services, including by providing integrated climate and legal advice in relation to:

  • Financial risk disclosure and reporting, including as a result of the commencement of the mandatory climate-related disclosures regime.
  • Identifying and responding to climate-related risks and opportunities, including physical risk, transition risk (which includes legal risk) and litigation risk.
  • Target-setting and the alignment of business strategy with those targets.
  • Ensuring that governance, risk management and strategy frameworks support organisations' climate goals.
  • Engaging with resource management reform.
  • Engaging with regulatory and policy developments, including as a result of NZ's emissions reduction plan and national adaptation plan process.
  • Ensuring that transition plans are communicated accurately and in a way that avoids greenwashing.
  • Advising and representing clients in relation to climate-related disputes.
  • Climate change components of major projects, including infrastructure projects and M&A.
  • Matters relating to the transition of specific sectors, such as financial services, electricity or agriculture.

Further information about Russell McVeagh's alliance partner, Te Whakahaere, is available on its website here.


Russell McVeagh has a specialist, multi-disciplinary team able to assist you across a wide range of the continually evolving issues in this fast-moving area of law. For example, we advise and assist our clients in relation to:

  • Regulatory activity, including policy and law reform engagement as well as continued legal compliance (for example, in relation to climate-related financial reporting and disclosures).
  • Mitigation and adaption measures, including mitigation strategy development and legal structuring in relation to climate issues under M&A and commercial contracts.
  • Climate risk and threats, including climate-related litigation, governance issues, risk identification and assessment.
  • Climate change related projects, including clean energy and carbon sink projects, transactions involving the Emissions Trading Scheme, green bonds and other sustainable finance.
  • Resource management, including major infrastructure projects facing climate change-related constraints and challenges.


Examples of Russell McVeagh's work in this area include:

  • Assisting clients with government engagement and legislative reform, including submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill, relevant regulations, the Climate Change Commission's advice and resource management reform.
  • Advising on reporting standards and obligations in relation to climate change, including under the mandatory climate-related disclosures regime.
  • Assisting with commercial contracting, structuring and M&A in the context of climate-related projects, including facilitating the integration of ESG metrics within legal/project frameworks.
  • Advising on the new and current role of climate change under the Resource Management Act, including the interface with the Climate Change Response Act, particularly in relation to large scale development projects.
  • Assisting clients in relation to Commerce Commission and Financial Markets Authority scrutiny, including in relation to greenwashing.
  • Advice in relation to the New Zealand Emissions trading scheme, including in relation to structures for holding and trading New Zealand Units, reporting obligations and emissions liabilities, and bilateral agreements between trading parties.
  • Advising in relation to climate change matters in the social enterprise sphere.
  • Representing Genesis in Greenpeace New Zealand Inc v Genesis Power Ltd [2008] NZSC 112, the first climate change case in New Zealand. This case considered whether greenhouse gas emissions could be taken into account under the Resource Management Act in the context of a proposal to build a new gas-fired power station.
  • Acting in a wide range of representative actions and judicial reviews, both of which are fertile ground for climate-related litigation. 

Please get in touch with any of the people below with your query. We look forward to hearing from you.

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