Did a Climate Alarmist Law Student Just Kill the Green Movement?

Essay by Eric Worrall

An Aussie law student has forced the government to settle an accusation it breached its duty to investors, by not adding climate risk warnings to new sales of government debt. The consequences will not be what she expects.

Australian government acknowledges risk of climate change to bonds after court case

By the Specialist Reporting Team’s Leonie Thorne and national science, technology and environment reporter Michael Slezak

The federal government has agreed to settle a world-first court case accusing it of misleading investors by failing to disclose the risk climate change poses to its bonds.

Key points:

  • The government has agreed to publish a statement saying climate change may affect its sovereign bonds
  • Lawyers say while Australia’s approach to climate change has improved since 2020, more needs to be done
  • The court case is a significant step towards acknowledging the risk of climate change to investments, lawyers say

In 2020, Melbourne woman Katta O’Donnell, then a 23-year-old law student, sued the federal government for allegedly deceiving investors, as part of a class action representing current and potential investors in government bonds.

The class action called for a public declaration that the Commonwealth had breached its duty to investors, by not disclosing information about how climate change could hurt the value of government bonds.

However, in the proposed settlement terms published today, the government has agreed to publish a statement acknowledging that climate change is a “systemic risk” that may affect the value of its bonds.

In return, Ms O’Donnell will drop the request for a declaration of misleading conduct.

“The settlement is an important first step in realising the risks of climate change,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“The government must now prioritise effective action on climate change to mitigate those risks.”

Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-08-30/australian-government-climate-change-risks-to-bonds-court-case/102791964

Katta, you just broke the green movement.

The problem debt addicted politicians are facing is not climate change, the problem the government is facing is court acceptance that the government believes climate change is a problem, and that they were not properly advising investors of the climate risks associated with buying new government debt.

Which response do you think would be easier?

a) Actually doing something about CO2 emissions.

b) Convincing the courts that the government no longer believes climate change will impact their ability to repay debt.

I’m guessing they’ll go with option b). Obviously they may squirm a bit first, try to fake option a), but courts are pretty good at spotting outright lies.

Katta, I know you are not a climate skeptic, but you have given climate skeptics like myself an incomparable gift – a potential lever for restraining out of control government borrowing and climate rhetoric, by forcing left wing politicians to choose one or the other. Thanks to you, they can no longer have both.

What can I say? If you know a lawyer who enjoys a good legal joke, and would like to smack the Biden administration, or any other green left administration, with a stick of their own making, pick up the phone and convince your lawyer friend to launch a similar case in your country. Make sure you get the courts to insist on making the climate warning as terrifying as possible, really scare off the creditors.

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August 31, 2023 10:15 am

Activists always overreach. Albanese will always plead “Climate Change” as he and other politicians have more to do affecting Bonds than climate. For them to bleat “Climate Change” obscures their responsibility in creating debt and interest rate bubbles

Reply to  jimbob
August 31, 2023 10:20 am

They’ll just declare a climate emergency – that over rides any dissent, problem, negative or challenge

Richard Page
Reply to  Energywise
August 31, 2023 1:59 pm

But still won’t encourage investment. The options only get worse after that.

Reply to  jimbob
August 31, 2023 2:01 pm

Story tip: Global cooling almost wiped ancestors of H. heidelbergensis, Neanderthals, Denisovans and anatomically modern humans ~900 Ka:


Reply to  Milo
August 31, 2023 2:04 pm

Wiped out. Won’t let me edit.

Reply to  Milo
August 31, 2023 2:52 pm

The website AI nanny is in Terminator mode – sometimes it gives a “slow down, commenting to fast” message when I’m just trying to fix a typo on the lone message I’ve posted that day. 🤬

Reply to  PCman999
August 31, 2023 3:47 pm

Me too <g>

Reply to  StuM
August 31, 2023 4:17 pm


I assume the moderators know about it by now.

WordPress can be a finicky little *****

Reply to  bnice2000
September 1, 2023 8:04 am

Yes, they are aware, and they really can’t do much about it – it’s a wordpress issue. Hopefully next update will fix it.

Reply to  PCman999
August 31, 2023 6:27 pm

I suspect it is a side-effect of some other change WordPress made; regardless, editing is b0rked.

Reply to  PCman999
August 31, 2023 9:51 pm

Same for me for a few days now. Annoying.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Milo
August 31, 2023 6:41 pm

Cooling always bad
I hope we warm faster

August 31, 2023 10:19 am
Reply to  Energywise
August 31, 2023 11:31 am

Something else happened over 20/21, can’t put my finger on it, but 2023 emissions look ready to set the record for highest ever. We’ll see. A global recession to cut into emissions for a while.

Reply to  Scissor
August 31, 2023 1:01 pm

I doubt it – we’re not the only carbon emitters on the planet and nothing says emissions have to be constant. For instance, termites produce about a third more CO2 than all of humanity. What if they have a really good year? Or ten?

August 31, 2023 10:21 am

Good point

Driving away debt buyers means higher yields and higher debt service crowding out green schemes among other budget stressors. You won’t hear this from the lips of Dems or NPR until an opponent takes office.

U.S. National Debt Continues To Soar Amid Excessive Spending (forbes.com)

Tom Halla
August 31, 2023 10:22 am

Actually, the warning should be that government efforts to deal with climate change may affect their ability to repay bonds.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 31, 2023 11:34 am

We’re closing in on an unsustainable debt load. What happens then?

Reply to  Scissor
August 31, 2023 11:51 am

A lot of developed countries turn to the IMF for help.

Reply to  Scissor
August 31, 2023 12:46 pm

Hyperinflation followed by default followed by war.

Reply to  Yirgach
August 31, 2023 12:55 pm

Not necessarily in that order.

Reply to  Scissor
August 31, 2023 12:51 pm

Two possibilities
1) Governments try to inflate their way out of the debt.
2) Governments default on their debt.

As any economists will tell you, option 2 is just a variation on option 1.

If history is any guide, most governments will chose option 1 and try to protect themselves by blaming greedy capitalists for daring to raise prices.

Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2023 1:47 pm

Destroying your savings in the same process.

Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2023 8:51 pm

Government defaulting on it’s debt would destroy any one/thing that holds a substantial amount of US bonds. That would include all banks, most pension funds/401Ks, a lot of major corporations, and many foreign countries that have been buying t-bills to try and keep their currencies from rising against the US dollar.

Trying to inflate you way out of this hole will devastate anyone with a checking or savings account and will make profitable investment all but impossible. It will also make most existing t-bills practically worthless, which will devastate the same groups listed in the first paragraph.

Reply to  Scissor
August 31, 2023 1:44 pm

More printing and the introduction of a 100% digital currency system . Total control by Big Brother.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Robertvd
August 31, 2023 2:43 pm

surely a 100% digital currency would lead to less printing?

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 31, 2023 6:28 pm

Shirley you can’t be this dumb?

Reply to  karlomonte
August 31, 2023 8:52 pm

Never underestimate Izaak’s ability to find new lows.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
August 31, 2023 8:53 pm

I’m hoping that this was just a lame attempt at humor. However given your history, it’s hard to be sure.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Scissor
September 1, 2023 12:25 am

I don’t know but I don’t think the UK has paid off the debt from the South Sea Bubble (1720 world’s first ponzi scheme) although I think it was hidden in all the other debts not that long ago.
So it may take a bit of time

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 31, 2023 1:40 pm

They just print more of that fiat currency. So don’t worry they will pay but if you can still buy something with that inflated dollar is the question. Printing like there is no tomorrow will kill the purchasing power of a fiat currency (destroying your savings in the same process).

August 31, 2023 10:25 am

Always lurking in the background, unseen, and unacknowledged, is the wonderful law of ‘unintended consequences.’

Sensible people have no need to fear it.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  cuddywhiffer
August 31, 2023 6:44 pm

It’s the intended consequences that keep me up at night.

Reply to  cuddywhiffer
August 31, 2023 8:55 pm

Everybody needs to fear the unintended consequences. Nobody is smart enough to figure out all the possible consequences of even simple acts.
Sensible people do what they can to lower the risks, but they never go to zero.

Capt Jeff
August 31, 2023 10:31 am

And what about the risk of reduced tax revenue from Australian business closures after energy cost increases make them uncompetitive in world markets.

Reply to  Capt Jeff
August 31, 2023 12:53 pm

Leftists tend to view businesses and rich people as constituting a bottomless well of money.
They seem to believe that they can raise taxes as high as they want, and their victims will just keep paying, without doing anything to cut their exposure to taxes.

Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2023 8:57 pm

I believe I have told this one before, about a young socialist who rejected the notion that increasing taxes would depress economic activity.
He had convinced himself that rich people, having gotten used to a certain lifestyle, would simply work harder in order make more money so that they would have the same after tax lifestyle whenever taxes were raised.

Reply to  MarkW
September 1, 2023 9:46 am

Two cases come to mind immediately. The first is the 10% luxury tax on yachts in 1990. Led to a loss of 25,000 jobs and an actual loss to the U.S. treasury. The other one is Germany’s current situation where the cost of energy, driven by the Green policies implemented by the German government are driving manufacturing and large industries out of Germany. They are losing jobs and their GDP dropped by 4.4% last year.

August 31, 2023 10:31 am
  1. I think the climate cabal’s ability to use the media to negate any apparent negative affects this will have on governments’ ability to maintain solvency is underestimated.
  2. The same media will spin this as positive for the people.
  3. The governments and quangos are controlled by the same cabal that is prioritizing climate change so nothing will change for them.
  4. I hope I’m wrong.
Steve Case
August 31, 2023 10:44 am

“Which response do you think would be easier? a) or b)”

Left-wing governments will lie about complying with option a) and left-wing courts will believe them. Slaying the climate monster won’t be that easy

August 31, 2023 11:04 am

At some point, due diligence demands that any climate risk in the investment be quantified. In order to do that, a complete accounting of natural vs anthropogenic risk is needed, since governments are never responsible for “Acts Of God” in their investment offerings.

It will be interesting to see the pleadings in different courts around the world once class action lawyers wise up to the amount of money available from settlements.

Reply to  doonman
August 31, 2023 11:36 am

Good point.

August 31, 2023 11:09 am

Just thinking aloud, if all governments declared a “climate risk” would the broad investment risk playing field largely even out?

George T
August 31, 2023 11:12 am

Investors will want a higher yield on this government debt to account for the apparent climate change risk. More risk. Higher yield. Ignoramus government loses. Taxpayers pay.

Reply to  George T
September 1, 2023 1:14 am

Only the lawyers win $$.

Bruce Cobb
August 31, 2023 11:18 am

Oh, what a tangled web they weave.

Richard Page
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 31, 2023 5:52 pm

“Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.
But how vastly we improve our style,
When we have practiced for a while.”

Frank from NoVA
August 31, 2023 11:18 am

I don’t see how this outcome hampers the Alarmist cause in the least. Institutional investors are very likely aware that ‘climate change’ won’t impact the issuer’s ability to pay, while the Alarmists themselves will be able to point at a mountain of government paper that says climate change is a ‘systematic risk’.

michael hart
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
August 31, 2023 12:10 pm

Yes, it’s a bit of a non-story.
And when did anyone get to successfully sue their government for anything the government didn’t want to be sued for? Like inflation or war? They write rules and control the courts.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  michael hart
August 31, 2023 2:15 pm

Good point. This is very much like the ‘sue and settle’ routine, wherein the EPA allows (encourages?) and then loses law suits to environmental NGOs, the settlement of which always result in expanding new regs the EPA favors.

Joe Crawford
August 31, 2023 11:34 am

Story tip (at least for giggles): ‘The ground is deforming, and buildings aren’t ready‘ First study to quantify effects of subsurface climate change on civil infrastructureat https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/07/230711131050.htm

This one took me a while to get the coffee out of my keyboard I was laughing so hard <:)

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 31, 2023 1:21 pm

The laughable part is how they attach the Climate change spin to it, but, it is real and very very serious.
The bit about buildings cracking, crumbling and falling down is simply ‘just’ subsidence, Caused primarily by the extraction of groundwater even from considerable distances from the affected buildings.
The authorities responsible know exactly that but climate change is now such a convenient buck pass.

Meanwhile her in the UK, we don’t even need climate or groundwater pumping – just cheap and nasty builders who used “reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete” RAAC
Despite being ‘reinforced’, it tends to collapse without warning.

Without even climate to give it a shove. Ain’t that a true wonder in this modern age?

A lot of schools were built using this RAAC shyte and they’ve only just found out, a matter of days before the schools were to re-open following summer holidays..

UK Schools Concrete.PNG
Richard Page
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 31, 2023 5:56 pm

Hmm. RAAC has about a 30 year lifespan and these buildings were built about 30 years ago. Can you connect the dots, children? Because the media idiots don’t seem to be able to.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 31, 2023 9:03 pm

There are many reasons for subsidence, ground water extraction is just one of them.

One of the largest reasons is improperly, or insufficiently prepared soil beneath the building.
If the ground is not fully compacted before the building is built, the weight of the building will cause the ground to finish compacting, and the building will settle, usually, unevenly.
If your building is sitting on pilings, and the pilings are too few in number, or not sufficiently deep, the building will settle.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 31, 2023 1:24 pm

My reading of that is: Basements, tunnels, and any other under-street-level infrastructure produces, like the structures at an above street level, a heating effect.
This takes the concept of “urban heat island” into the netherworld. Keep a tight fist on your wallet.

August 31, 2023 11:48 am

This brings to mind the case of San Francisco and Oakland versus Chevron and a host of other oil companies. The cities were alleging all the alarmist claptrap with which we are all too familiar and the oil companies need to pay.But Chevron pointed out that just a few years earlier in its municipal bond offering, San Francisco had stated

“The City is unable to predict whether sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur, when they may occur, and if any such events occur, whether they will have a material adverse effect on the business operations or financial condition of the City and the local economy.” 

Rich Davis
Reply to  charlie
August 31, 2023 1:10 pm

They totally forgot to mention oil cancer. Everyone in Dementia Joe’s home town had it.

August 31, 2023 11:55 am
August 31, 2023 1:55 pm

The problem with this argument is that nobody really believes the climate alarmist rhetoric. Like Obama and Gore buying seaside properties, the big talkers will still buy government bonds at prices that reflect no climate risk.

The adolescent who led this court action, however, congratulates herself for Saving the Planet, not knowing the planet needs no saving.

Saint Katta joins Saint Greta. A whole pantheon of climate saints. All for nothing.

J Boles
August 31, 2023 1:56 pm
August 31, 2023 3:26 pm

Dear ChatGPT – please tell me what the best scare campaign is, now that the climate scare has been blown – Oz Gov.

old cocky
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 31, 2023 5:45 pm

Skynet isn’t going to admit to that, though.

Tom Johnson
August 31, 2023 6:28 pm

I have absolutely no legal training, but I have a good number of years of common sense. It seems to me that the Supreme Court should start playing the game, too. They should end any new ruling on this subject with the statement that the EPA has not been functioning in good faith, so henceforth, none of their findings are enforceable by the US government. until this court rules differently.

August 31, 2023 8:08 pm

Meanwhile there is still no existing climate crisis.

September 1, 2023 6:15 am

the problem the government is facing is court acceptance that the government believes climate change is a problem, and that they were not properly advising investors of the climate risks associated with buying new government debt.

Mark Mills explains their big picture problem trying to flog said government debt-
Mark P Mills: Grand Nexus: Information, Materials, Energy | Tom Nelson Pod #141 – YouTube
The left have run into the problem of their own making. Peak stupid.

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