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Hon Sussan Ley, MP, sworn in as Minister for the Environment on May 29, 2019.​​​ Image courtesy of Australian government.

Coal

Australian Government Tries To Duck Its Responsibility. Does Minister Sussan Ley Care? Is She Appealing? You Betcha.

By David Waterworth

I really prefer to write positive stories about the energy transition in Australia. As individuals, councils, and state press forward with a variety of projects involving EVs, wind, solar, batteries, and pumped hydro (and sometimes combinations of all of these) great progress is being made. However, it could be better and faster if our federal government stopped fighting against progress with funding to the fossil fuel industry.

Recently, environmental groups in Australia were celebrating the High Court decision to hold to account the federal government. Specifically, that the federal environment minister must exercise a duty of care for Australia’s young people to protect them from the potential harms caused by carbon dioxide emissions. This is based on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Eight Australian high school students had brought the case against Sussan Ley, Minister for the Environment, in respect to the expansion of a local coal mine. They had already had to fight a legal battle to establish that the government had a duty of care. Ley will now have to consider the environmental impacts and subsequent health risks associated with climate change impacts from the added coal extraction. Dig more coal, sell more coal, accelerate global warming, make more people sick.

The question we must now ask is, does the minister care? She has instructed her department to appeal the ruling. This appeal is likely to be heard by the full bench of the High Court.

The plaintiffs and their lawyers have described the situation as embarrassing — that a government should have to be taken to court to demand that it care for its citizens, and then not accept the decision of an impartial umpire and appeal against it.

It appears the minister does care, about coal. 

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).

Featured image courtesy of Australian government.


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