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Environment, Government Federal

Australia’s Environment Minister and coal mining companies in Federal Court hearing over the climate risk assessment of two new coal mines.

Climate Media Centre 4 mins read

The proceedings on September 18 are the first court challenges to a coal or gas decision made by Australia’s current Environment Minister and the outcome of the cases is likely to affect all pending coal and gas decisions on the Minister's desk. 

Mining companies, Narrabri Coal Operations (a subsidiary of Whitehaven Coal) and MACH Energy, have joined the proceedings and are defending the Environment Minister’s refusal to act on the scientific evidence of climate risk.

The litigation stems from a series of reconsideration requests submitted by the Environment Council of Central Queensland (represented by Environmental Justice Australia), urging the Minister to review the assessment of numerous pending coal and gas projects under the current EPBC Act (which lacks a climate trigger).

The case will be live streamed from the Federal Court in Melbourne - 305 William street, Monday the 18th of September 

Here are images of the Living Wonders that are threatened by climate change, which is being accelerated by the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. 

 

LEGAL EXPERT  

Professor Nicole Rogers Professor of Climate Law (Faculty of Law, Bond University)

Location – Gold Coast 

Nicole developed and taught Environmental Law for over 30 years at Southern Cross University, the only Australian University to make Environmental Law a core unit in its law degree at its introduction in 1993. She is currently Professor of Climate Law at Bond University, teaching into Bond's world first climate law degree. She has research expertise in climate litigation and climate activism. She can speak to the EPBC Act and judicial review of approvals under the Act, and discuss the history of anti-coal mine litigation in Australia and the efficacy of arguments used in such litigation.

 

CLIMATE COUNCIL 

Dr Simon Bradshaw - Research Director, Climate Council

Location – Sydney
Dr Simon Bradshaw is a researcher on climate science and the impacts of a warming climate; his research covers extreme weather, bushfires, health, security and many other areas of climate science and impacts. 

“For the government to be approving new coal mines, without considering the climate harm that comes from burning those fossil fuels, is extraordinarily reckless. These two coal mines' lifetime emissions total 1.35bn tonnes of carbon pollution, that’s roughly triple Australia’s total emissions last year, and that will contribute to the warming of our planet.” 

“The impact on the people and places we love is clear - communities slammed by fires then floods, our precious ecosystems suffering irreparable damage. Any missed opportunity to leave coal and gas in the ground increases the danger we will face, and is condemning future Australians to greater hardships.” 

 

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS

 

ECOSYSTEM

 

Dr Jodie Rummer Reef scientist (James Cook University)

Location – Townsville 

Dr Jodie’s specialty is coral reef fishes, including sharks and rays. She can talk about the impacts of climate change on Australia's most iconic Living Wonder, the Great Barrier Reef; she can discuss how oceans absorb heat from the atmosphere, and how emissions from burning fossil fuel is pushing the fish populations on the reef to the brink.

 

HEALTH 

 

Dr Kate Wylie - Doctors for the Environment (Executive Director)

Location – Adelaide  

Dr Kate can discuss how all coal mine approvals add to the emissions that are warming our planet, with both the health of humans, and Australian threatened species, being negatively impacted upon by increased heat and extreme weather as a result of burning fossil fuel. 

“Climate change is the greatest health problem facing humanity. The primary driver of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels and just like every cigarette is doing us damage, every coal mine and gas development is doing us damage as well.”

“Every coal mine is worsening global heating and the climate health emergency.” 

“We are already seeing the terrible and frightening health impacts of climate change in Australia and across the globe - we are seeing people dying from heat related illnesses, from fires and the associated smoke inhalation, from flooding and severe storms. We are seeing our natural world suffer too. When there's a heat wave, when there's a fire or a flood, animals die too, they lose their food and water supply and are directly impacted by these climates induced events. Our unique beautiful Australian wildlife is under threat and deserves our protection.”

“The northern hemisphere has been suffering these past few months, facing the hottest ever recorded temperatures and we cannot pretend that we can escape these effects this coming summer in Australia. It is time to face the reality of the situation, burning fossil fuels is adding fuel to the global heating fire and it is high time we ditch them, embrace renewables and protect nature for the sake of the health of humans and all Australian species.”

BIODIVERSITY/WILDLIFE 

Dr Angela Frimberger - Vets for Climate Action, Deputy Chair

Location – Port Macquarie  

“As vets, we’re tasked with protecting the health and welfare of animals; and climate change - which is fueled by greenhouse gas emissions that primarily come from burning fossil fuels - is already a major problem for the health and welfare of all animals, domestic and wild, as well as whole species and the overall biodiversity that we all rely on.”

“Vets for Climate Action represents over 2000 vets in Australia who are concerned about this and want their voices to be heard to help protect animals. We're already seeing animals including threatened species suffer and die due to the effects of climate change in the form of worsened heat, floods, drought and fires. That's why we’re calling for stronger and faster reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, including no further fossil fuel expansion.”

“There is no place, home or habitat where animals aren’t at risk from the effects of climate change. Across Australia, we’re all under one sky and all Australian animals are affected by these fossil fuel projects, but we can do better for our beloved native animals by embracing new opportunities instead.”

President of the Environment Centre of Central Queensland, Christine Carlisle said: 

“We didn’t want it to come to this, but we’re relieved these climate cases are now before the Court. We're doing this because we're so tired of the sound bites. So tired of photos of ministers posing with koalas, saying all the right things but failing to act.” 

“The science could not be clearer. It’s time for our environment minister to step up and act on climate risk.”

“The Minister's decision to refuse to act on the climate science is not only, we argue, legally wrong, but feels like a betrayal to the Australians who voted in favour of climate action.”

“This is now a matter for the courts. We hope not just to win these cases, but to set a precedent that all new coal and gas projects must be properly assessed for their climate risk to our environment."  

 

 


Contact details:

For interviews contact:

Sean Kennedy - QLD Media Advisor - Climate Media Centre 

m - 0447 121 378  e - sean.kennedy@climatemediacentre.org.au

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