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A duty of care

Federal environment minister Sussan Ley
Federal environment minister Sussan Ley

From our Down Under editor, Louise Katz

A class-action case was brought on behalf of all Australian children and teenagers, against federal environment minister Sussan Ley.

Their bid to prevent a coal mine expansion did not succeed. But the Federal Court nonetheless made a historic ruling: the environment minister owes a duty of care to Australia’s young people not to cause them harm from climate change.

The finding was ground-breaking enough. But it was this moving excerpt from the written judgment by Justice Mordy Bromberg that really cut to the bone:

"It is difficult to characterise in a single phrase the devastation that the plausible evidence presented in this proceeding forecasts for the children. As Australian adults know their country, Australia will be lost and the world as we know it gone as well.

The physical environment will be harsher, far more extreme and devastatingly brutal when angry. As for the human experience – quality of life, opportunities to partake in nature’s treasures, the capacity to grow and prosper – all will be greatly diminished.

Lives will be cut short. Trauma will be far more common and good health harder to hold and maintain.

None of this will be the fault of nature itself. It will largely be inflicted by the inaction of this generation of adults, in what might fairly be described as the greatest inter-generational injustice ever inflicted by one generation of humans upon the next.”

Full report in The Conversation 29 May

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