Niwa court action reheats climate change debate

A move by a group of climate change sceptics to take Niwa to court to challenge the accuracy of its temperature data has caused a stir at each end of the political spectrum.

The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition said it had lodged papers with the High Court asking it to invalidate Niwa's official temperature records, which it claims are inaccurate and being used to paint a misleading picture of global warming.

Coalition spokesman Bryan Leyland said many scientists believed that although the earth had been warming for 150 years, it had not heated as much as claimed.

He said the New Zealand Meteorological Service had shown no warming during the past century but Niwa had adjusted its records to show a warming trend of 1degC.

A spokesman for Niwa, which is state-owned and advises the government, said it couldn't comment in detail while court action was pending but that its information was objective and authoritative and it had full confidence in its science.

"We are confident that, in the unlikely event that [a court case] proceeds, then our stance and our science will be fully vindicated."

A full court case will proceed only if it is established during a depositions hearing that there is a case to answer.

Act Party leader Rodney Hide, who along with colleague John Boscawen has been a vocal sceptic of the notion that climate change is man-made and has lobbied against the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), has also been a harsh Niwa critic.

He said today he agreed with the coalition's claims and was pleased Niwa would be forced to explain its data.

"I think it's great that the taxpayers are holding this state entity to account, because what I've seen of them is shocking and I have been appalled at the way they have manipulated the data to produce a warming result and have been unable to explain why they adjusted the temperature records upwards," he told NZPA.

The ETS was a "disaster" for New Zealand and a lot of it was based on Niwa's arguments, he said.

But Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the court case was a "dangerous distraction from the reality on the ground.

"We need to cut emissions and respond sensibly to the climate change already under way," Dr Norman said.

He said science was showing the east coast of New Zealand was becoming increasingly vulnerable to extreme climate events and that events such as the latest floods in Whakatane would be seen more commonly in the near future.

Dr Norman also called for central government to provide greater leadership on adapting to climate change-induced weather events through a national policy statement (NPS) on climate change adaptation.

Mr Hide said he was confident councils already had adequate plans to deal with adverse weather events.

University of Otago pro-vice chancellor of sciences Keith Hunter has also backed Niwa, saying taking court action against it was "stupid," while the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) said it may join court action in support of Niwa.

"On the face of it, it's hard to see how the issue can properly be brought before the court," said EDS chairman Gary Taylor. "We have no doubts that the science behind global warming predictions is robust and reliable and would wish to support the institute in any way that we can."

He said it was one thing to have robust debate about the science= but "quite another to attempt to belittle and undermine the need for action, as the coalition has been doing now for years."

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Yes this action is long overdue - the problem with Climate Change proponents is that their time line and view of the world is far too short. - climate cycles move in hundreds of years not last week and next week.


i must admit i feel so let down with John Key and HACKNATIONAL im going ACT next time


As little100 years ago you could walk across the Thames in London, frozen solid in winter, [the little ice age ].
1400 AD and grapes were grown in Edinburgh, a cosy 4 degrees C warmer than today.


amazing these half wits get paid to tell us Bull and lies.
The morons at Niwa are worse than the fraud half baked so called climate expect overseas.

WHY? WHY? if the world is heading down hill so bad WHY do these so called experts have to LIE, manipulate data to serve their religion???

I think John Key is the biggest FLAKE to take any thing that half WIT Sir Dumb a Cluckton has to say


and give the fraudsters at NIWA and their ilk a deserved slap....however my faith in the NZ judiciary is at a real low ebb. I fear they may be shown cheese and call it chalk and I have no faith there wont be political interference.


As the PRA requires all state entities to keep full and accurate records of their business activities, I am sure this can all be cleared up very quickly. Just supply all the original data, the algorithms and manipulation techniques used on that data (with their reasonings and assumptions) and show the revised data... all will be clear.
Or perhaps they don't have the data and have not kept records... Shame on them!!


Depositions? case to answer?

The NIWA spokesman (Network PR?) seems to be expecting a criminal jury trial. Is this a Freudian desire to be punished for their terrible sins?


Wow, you commenters really can't be bothered can you. You can't even read back just a little way to the last time the Climate Coalition group asked the same questions and were answered by NIWA. The monitoring stations moved, they had measured the difference between the two locations and applied that difference to the data they had collected at the old station so that they could compare today's measurements to those of the 1900s. Blooming heck, it's not very hard to understand.

And NIWA isn't say what caused the change, just that there was one. These people deal with ice-cores from the antarctic, rock formations in caves, they are well aware of climate change over eons. A lot more aware than the fools I see commenting above.


Hey Craig,

I'm sure NIWA did all the things you say, but the thing is they have no data to prove it do they? Do you believe everything you're told? If it was a uni dissertation it would be in the rubbish bin as worthless & indefensible. Perhaps I could say that I've adjusted the raw data so the temp. has fallen by 1 degree celsius over the last 100 yrs, but unfortunately I've 'lost' all proof of how I did it - would you take my word for it? Should expensive govt. policy be based on nothing but assertions without evidence? Is this scientific?

If you think about it, it's NIWA that just can't be bothered. The burden of proof is with them, & if they can't back it up with the workings then the data deserves to be invalidated - after all, without proof it's anything but valid. Try putting in a tax return for masses of expenses without the receipts and see what the IRD think about it. Do you think they'll take your word for it, even though your expenses are only a tiniest fraction of the money the ETS and NIWA is costing the country?

If they are such professional scientists then they of all people know that they have to justify their work. Every adjustment needs to be individually accounted for.


Every adjustment is individually accounted for. The science is available to all, just check their website

Note that you can get raw data from and figure things out for yourself. Niwa have done all they need to do but uniformed people continue to throw incorrect accusations at them.


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