Guest essay by Eric Worrall
An anti-coal case court judgement so deliciously ambiguous everyone feels like a winner.
Australian court finds government has duty to protect young people from climate crisis
Eight teenagers, along with 86-year-old nun, launched case to prevent the approval of a massive coalmine
The federal court of Australia has found the environment minister, Sussan Ley, has a duty of care to protect young people from the climate crisis in a judgment hailed by lawyers and teenagers who brought the case as a world first.
Justice Mordecai Bromberg found the minister had a duty of care to not act in a way that would cause future harm to younger people. But he did not grant the injunction as he was not satisfied the minister would breach her duty of care.
David Barnden, a lawyer representing the children, said it was a historic and “amazing decision” with potentially significant consequences.
“The court has found that the minister owes a duty of care to younger children, to vulnerable people, and that duty says that the minister must not act in a way that causes harm – future harm – from climate change to younger people,” he said outside court. “It is the first time in the world that such a duty of care has been recognised, especially in a common law country.”
Whitehaven Coal had a different interpretation of the judgment. In a statement to the stock exchange, it did not mention the duty of care finding, and said it welcomed the court dismissing the teenagers’ attempt to block Ley from approving the mine extension.
“Our consistent position has been that this legal claim was without merit,” it said. “Whitehaven looks forward to receiving the … approval for the Vickery extension project and will keep the market updated as appropriate.”
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/may/27/australian-court-finds-government-has-duty-to-protect-young-people-from-climate-crisis
Environment minister Sussan Ley is no friend of the green movement, WUWT reported her hilarious visit to the Great Barrier Reef in 2019, where she asked scientists to show her all the dead coral. What she found, of course, was lots of healthy coral.
So it is possible Ley will approve the coal mine – ensuring well paid coal mining jobs could be seen as part of her duty of care towards future generations.
But in these crazy times, who knows what will actually happen.