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Environment, Government Federal

Living Wonders Cases – Judgment handed down in climate litigation against environment minister and two coal mining companies

CMC 4 mins read

16th of May 2024


The judgment in the Living Wonders Cases will be handed down at 11.15am AEST - the judgment is from a judicial review by three Federal Court judges who have assessed whether ​​Australia’s Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, is required by law to scrutinise the climate harm of new coal and gas projects.

The litigation stems from a series of reconsideration requests submitted by the The Environment Council of Central Queensland (represented by Environmental Justice Australia) under the current Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act. 

The requests asked Minister Plibersek to reconsider 19 coal and gas proposals because of their climate risks to our environment - this judicial review is in relation to the Minister’s risk assessment of the Narrabri and Mount Pleasant coal mine proposals in NSW, the first court challenges to a coal or gas decision made by Australia’s current Environment Minister. The outcome of these cases could impact the consideration of all future fossil fuel projects in the country.

Mining companies, Narrabri Coal Operations (a subsidiary of Whitehaven Coal) and MACH Energy, joined the proceedings and defended the Environment Minister’s refusal to act on the scientific evidence that climate harm is caused by their operations and the burning of their coal.


Livestream details: 

Meeting ID: 465 842 813 411   

Passcode: R6U7xa


The following experts are available to discuss the importance of considering climate harm when assessing fossil fuel projects, and the impact that a warming climate is having on our planet. 




Ashleigh Wyles - Member of the Environment Council of Central Queensland

Location – Melbourne 

Twenty-six-year-old Ashleigh Wyles from the Environment Council of Central Queensland grew up in Mackay, with family members working in the local coal industry. Ashleigh is completing a degree in library and information services and is concerned that climate change, driven by fossil fuels, risks the future of the Greater Barrier Reef and all Australia’s Living Wonders.


Tony Fontes - Member of the Environment Council of Central Queensland

Location – Airlie Beach

Tony Fontes is a veteran dive operator whose involvement in reef conservation started nearly 40 years ago when he realised that coral reefs are under pressure and little was being done to protect them. Tony has experienced first-hand multiple coral bleaching events as ocean temperatures have continued to warm, and he wants to see climate harm considered when the government is assessing projects, as each new fossil fuel project is driving tropical corals closer to the brink. 




Dr Julia Dehm - Senior Lecturer at the La Trobe Law School

Location – Melbourne 

Dr Julia Dehm’s research addresses urgent issues of international and domestic climate change and environmental law, natural resource governance and questions of human rights, economic inequality and social justice. Her detailed analysis of climate related laws produce a compelling account of how the field of environmental law is both structured by unequal power relations and complicit in their reproduction and how international law is implication in the production of ecological harm.


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. 




Dr Jodie Rummer Reef scientist (James Cook University)

Location – Townsville

Dr Rummer'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 climate pollution from burning coal, oil and gas is damaging vital ocean ecosystems.

“In my work on the Great Barrier Reef, I've seen how climate change, driven by fossil fuel emissions, is pushing this iconic ecosystem to its limits. The 'Living Wonders Case' is a pivotal moment, urging us to shift from exploiting our natural wonders to truly safeguarding them. It is a call to action to protect the reef's vibrant life for future generations. Our actions today will determine the legacy we leave for future generations, which must be one of stewardship, ensuring the Great Barrier Reef remains a Living Wonder."


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.

“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.” 


To arrange interviews, please contact:

Sean Kennedy - Senior Media Advisor - Climate Media Centre 

m - 0447 121 378  e - 

Contact details:

Sean Kennedy - Senior Media Advisor - Climate Media Centre 

m - 0447 121 378  e -

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