Australian court overturns landmark teen climate decision

On Tuesday, a full bench of the Federal Court of Justice issued a unanimous decision, saying that the duty of care should not be placed on Environment Minister Susan Ley, and the three judges provided several reasons for their decision.

Chief Justice James Alsop said no liability should be held, in part because the minister’s lack of control over climate change damage by her decisions far outweighs the “tiny contribution to the overall risk of climate change damage” from those decisions.

“The lack of proportionality between a slight increase in risk and a lack of control, and liability for all those affected by heat waves, wildfires and rising sea levels to all Australians under the age of 18 continuing into the future, means that a tort duty should not be imposed ,” Alsop said.

In a statement, Lei welcomed the decision and said the government would look into it carefully. “The Morrison government remains committed to protecting the environment for present and future generations,” the statement said.

Tuesday’s decision follows a landmark Federal Court ruling in May 2021 that said the federal environment secretary has a responsibility to take care of young people before approving an expansion of the Whitehaven Vickery coal mine in New South Wales.

The case was brought by eight Australians under 18, including Melbourne teenager Anjali Sharma and Marie’s sister Bridget Arthur, who acted as their legal guardian.

In July 2021, the decision was extended to all children, not just applicants, further increasing pressure on the government to consider the risks to future Australians when approving new coal projects.

Before Federal Court in Sydney on Tuesday, Sharma, the lead litigant in the case, said she was “devastated by the decision and so, so angry.”

“Today, the Federal Court may have accepted the minister’s legal arguments over ours. But that doesn’t change the minister’s moral obligation to take action on climate change and protect young people from the harm it will bring. It doesn’t change science,” the 17-year-old told reporters. “It doesn’t put out fires or divert floodwaters.”

“Our lawyers will be reviewing the decision and we will have more information on possible next steps in the coming weeks, but today I can say that we will not stop in our fight for climate justice.”

Amanda McKenzie, chief executive of the Climate Council, said the decision was disappointing, but the children managed to draw more attention to an important issue.

“You need a drumroll, if you will, of information and people saying, ‘This is not normal.’ And I feel like the young people who have been pushing this cause have really created a moment to bring people’s attention to what climate change means for young Australians. And I think it was really valuable,” she said.

The children’s initial legal victory did not stop the government from approving the expansion of the Whitehaven Vickery coal mine. The project was approved in September and involves open pit mining in northwest New South Wales.

Most of the coal mined will be metallurgical coal for steel production, as well as thermal coal for export markets, according to the agency. Whitehaven website.

The appeal was heard by Allsop, Judge Jonathan Beach and Judge Michael Wheelahan.

In a ruling handed down by Allsop, Beech concluded that the Minister of the Environment should not be held responsible, in part because there was “not enough proximity and immediacy between the Minister’s exercise of statutory powers and the likely risk of harm to the respondents and the class they represent.” “

Wylahan said taking on caregiving duties “does not fit” the minister’s role under the Environment and Biodiversity Act.

The Australian government is considered to be lagging behind in the fight against climate change. In October, days before the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Prime Minister Scott Morrison finally announced that the country join other developed countries aiming to achieve zero emissions by 2050.
In recent weeks, record-breaking floods on the country’s east coast prompted a national emergency declaration as homes and businesses were flooded after a period of heavy rain. This comes two years after wildfires devastated much of Australia’s most populous states. Both disasters were linked to climate change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.