Teenagers, sister win major environment case

Sr Brigid Arthur at a refugee rally in Melbourne earlier this year (Melbourne Catholic/Fiona Basile)

The Federal Court has formally declared the environment minister has a “duty to take reasonable care” that young people won’t be harmed or killed by carbon dioxide emissions if she approves a coalmine expansion. Source: The Guardian.

In the case, brought by eight schoolchildren and an octogenarian nun, Sr Brigid Arthur CSB, Justice Mordecai Bromberg yesterday also ordered the minister pay all costs.

The judge had indicated he would make a declaration during the case in May, when he rejected a request by the children to issue an injunction blocking Whitehaven Coal’s plans to expand its Vickery coalmine project near Boggabri, New South Wales.

Climate campaigners said there should be “no moral, legal or rational way” Environment Minister Sussan Ley could now approve the project.

Justice Bromberg declared that when the minister makes her decision over the coalmine, she has a duty “to take reasonable care” to “avoid causing personal injury or death” to Australian residents under 18 “arising from emissions of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere”.

Anj Sharma, a 16-year-old Melbourne student and one of the eight children supported in court by Sister Brigid, said they were delighted that the law of the land now states that the government has a duty to avoid causing harm to young people.

The minister will have 28 days to appeal against the case.

A spokesperson for the minister said the Morrison Government would review the judgment closely and assess all available options.


Australian government must protect young people from climate crisis harm, court declares (By Graham Readfearn, The Guardian)

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