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Environment, Government Federal

LIVING WONDERS COURT CASE RESULT: Verdict due in landmark climate cases against Australia’s Environment Minister and two coal mining companies

Climate Media Centre 4 mins read

The Living Wonders case challenges mine approvals made by Australia’s Environment Minister and the decision due to be handed down at 2.15pm today will have implications for further approvals that come across 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).

Judgement at 2.15pm Wednesday, 11 October 2023. The judgement will be livestreamed and a link will be made available from the Living Wonders website as soon as possible.  

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. 

 

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS

Serena Joyner, CEO of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action (BSCA)

Location: Blue Mountains.

Can talk from personal experience about the impact of climate disasters on communities and why the governments cannot continue to approve new fossil fuel projects.

“It's early spring and we’ve already seen multiple bad fires around the country, catastrophic fire weather, homes destroyed and schools closed. We can’t keep pretending this is unexpected or that we don’t know what to do. The science is unequivocal - climate change is causing more extreme fire weather. The Environment Minister must stop making things worse and pause approvals of coal and gas projects until the law can adequately assess climate 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.”

 

LEGAL EXPERT  

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

Location – Gold Coast (available for interview after 2pm)

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.

 

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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