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Environment, Government Federal

Queensland community group applies to the High Court in their fight to protect our Living Wonders from climate harm

CMC 3 mins read

14th of June 2024


The Environment Council of Central Queensland (ECoCeQ) has applied for special leave to Australia’s highest court to appeal the Full Federal Court’s dismissal of the landmark Living Wonders climate cases. The judicial review in the Federal Court was assessing whether ​​Australia’s Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, is required by law to scrutinise the climate harm of new coal and gas projects.


The cases challenge the Minister’s risk assessment of the Narrabri and Mount Pleasant coal mine proposals in NSW, and were 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. There are currently 117 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline in Australia, with the plans for 35 new coal mines and expansions sitting on the Minister’s desk right now awaiting approval. 


One of the mines at the centre of this case, MACH Energy’s Mt Pleasant coal mine, would become Australia’s largest coal mine if approved, creating immense amounts of climate pollution for decades to come - vision of the Mount Pleasant mine is available here. 

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. 




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 Bond's world-first climate law degree. She has research expertise in climate litigation and climate activism. She can speak to the significance of the Living Wonders cases lodging their special request with the High Court and the precedence of the EPBC act being accessed by the high court, and discuss the history of anti-coal mine litigation in Australia and the efficacy of arguments used in such litigation. 


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.




Christine Carlisle, Environment Council of Central Queensland (ECoCeQ) President said: “We’re a small volunteer group. We don’t want to go to the High Court, but our climate is breaking down and we feel we have no choice. 

“We’ve applied to the highest court in the land because there are currently 117 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline in Australia – and 35 new coal mines on the Environment Minister’s desk awaiting approval right now. 

“MACH Energy wants to run the biggest coal mine in Australia until nearly 2050 at Mount Pleasant. Whitehaven wants to keep mining mind-boggling amounts of coal from Narrabri until 2044. These two coal mines will fuel billions of tonnes of climate emissions in coming years. We argue that damage needs to be carefully assessed under our environment laws. 

“We’ve applied to the High Court because the Environment Minister could imminently greenlight these huge coal mines without properly assessing their climate risk to our environment.

“The outcome of this High Court application stands to impact all pending fossil fuel projects currently awaiting approval on the Minister’s desk.”


Ellie Smith from ECoCeQ said:

“The Environment Minister’s fundamental job is to protect our environment. We say it’s unlawful for her to ignore the climate risks that huge new coal mines pose to our environment.

“Instead of standing up to fossil fuel companies, Australia’s Environment Minister keeps standing with them in court, defending her refusal to act on the climate harm of new coal and gas mines.

“The Environment Minister says she accepts that coal and gas mines have profound and devastating effects on our climate and environment. But she’s refusing to act on that harm. 

“The science is clear. We are in a climate crisis, and every new coal and gas project is pouring more fuel on the fire.”




Jann Gilbert is a marine biologist and bushfire survivor.

Location: Mallacoota, Victoria.

Jann can talk from personal experience about the impact of climate disasters on communities and marine wildlife, and why governments cannot continue to approve new fossil fuel projects.
“The science is unequivocal - climate pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is worsening the impacts of climate change, causing more severe weather events like fires, floods, heatwaves and drought. 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:

Climate Media Centre - Sean Kennedy

m - 0447 121 378 

e -

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