A proposed coal mine in the Australian state of Queensland is the subject of litigation relating to its contribution to climate change risks. The case is brought by Youth Verdict, a group of indigenous and non-indigenous Australian young people.
The case objects to the mining lease and environmental authorisations granted for the project, on the basis that it infringes on the human rights of the young people including their right to life, right to property, and the cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
A challenge for public interest environmental litigation in Australia is establishing a proactive right or duty in relation to managing climate risks. The argument seeks to overcome this challenge, by relying on the relatively new Queensland Human Rights Act, to establish the right of the litigants to a sound environment.
If successful, the litigation will have implications in Queensland for other proposed fossil fuels projects, as well as implications for regulators which approve such projects.
This litigation highlights that the physical risks associated with climate change, such as property damage, bring associated litigation risks for companies and governments considered responsible for failing to mitigate or manage those physical risks.
For the first time an Australian coal mine is being challenged on human rights grounds... Youth Verdict joins The Bimblebox Alliance in opposition to Waratah Coal’s huge mine... The [Bimblebox Nature Refuge, an 8000Ha haven for native wildlife and plants] would be devastated by the Galilee Coal Project, which would destroy the habitat of more than 173 birds, for example, including vulnerable and endangered species. Both groups object to the Mining Lease and Environmental Authority for the Galilee Coal Project with the Land Court of Queensland... EDO’s clients will argue the mine will infringe upon six human rights: the rights of the child; the right to life; the right to be free from discrimination; the cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples; the right to property; and the right to privacy.