The eight children, aged 13 to 17, argued in Federal Court that Environment Minister Sussan Ley had a duty to protect young people from climate change. Ley is considering whether to approve the expansion of the Vickery mine in the state of New South Wales, and the children have applied for an injunction preventing the expansion.
Judge Mordy Bromberg dismissed their request while noting that the mine expansion would result in the extraction of an additional 33 million metric tons (36 million US tons) of coal over 25 years and the release of 100 million metric tons. (110 million US tons) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Ley owed a duty of care to the children under the law of negligence, the judge found, but said he was not convinced that a reasonable agreement had been made that Ley would violate his duty of care to the children. children.
Bromberg found that there was a “real” risk that the extension of the mine near the town of Gunnedah would likely result in a “small but measurable increase in global average surface temperatures.”
Perhaps the most surprising of the potential harms demonstrated by the evidence in court is that one million Australian children today are expected to suffer from at least one episode of heat stress severe enough to require acute care in a hospital, ”Bromberg said.
“Thousands of people will suffer premature death from heat stress or smoke from bushfires. Substantial economic losses and property damage will be suffered. The Great Barrier Reef and most of the eucalyptus forests in the east of Australia will no longer exist due to repeated severe bushfires, ”he added.
The children who lodged the complaint are being led by Anjali Sharma, 17, with the help of a so-called litigation guardian, Catholic nun Sister Brigid Arthur, 86.
The judge asked the children’s lawyers and the minister to make further submissions by June 3 on the orders he should render based on his reasons for judgment.
As the driest continent after Antarctica, Australia is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions associated with climate change.
Australia’s hottest and driest year in 2019 has come to a catastrophic conclusion with drought-fueled forest fires that killed at least 33 people, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed 19 million hectares (47 million acres).
Australia is also one of the world’s largest exporters of coal and liquefied natural gas and has been criticized for not setting more ambitious targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.