Australia government to appeal court ruling on climate change duty of care

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) – Australia’s government said on Friday (July 9) it would challenge a court ruling that found the environment minister has an obligation to the next generation to consider the harm caused by climate change when approving the expansion of a new coal mine.

The Federal Court of Australia made the ruling in May in response to a class action suit brought by eight teenagers that argued the expansion of Whitehaven Coal Ltd’s Vickery Project in New South Wales (NSW) state would contribute to climate change and endanger their future.

The minister Sussan Ley said she had formed the view that there were “grounds on which to appeal” after carefully considering the judgement, without giving further details.

Australia is the world’s top coal exporter and has not signed up to a zero emissions target by 2050 unlike most other developed nations.

It was ranked last out of 193 United Nations member nations for action taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the Sustainable Development Report 2021 released last week.

“It’s pretty embarrassing when you think about it, Sussan Ley is now taking it to the courts to prove her right to harm the environment,” Ms Anj Sharma, one of the students involved in the case, told Reuters. “It is pretty disappointing.”

“But we have beat her once in court so there’s no reason why we can’t do it again,” she added.

“The attitudes in Australia are shifting. It’s only her, the gas industries and the coal industries that are dragging their feet and sooner or later they are going to have to catch up with the rest of the country.”

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