Energy & Environment

Environment Minister appeals ruling she must protect children from climate harm

The judge was also wrong to find that when the Earth’s surface temperature rose above 2 degrees there was an exponentially increasing risk of it being propelled into an irreversible 4 degree trajectory, the appeal documents state.

Climate scientist Will Steffen, an emeritus professor at Australian National University, said that if the government was going to argue it was still possible to keep global warming close to 1.5 degrees, it would be inconsistent with Australia’s own climate policy.

Anjali Sharma and her litigation guardian Sister Brigid Arthur.Credit:Justin McManus

“If all countries adopted Australia’s own climate policy it would take us towards 3 degrees,” Professor Steffen said. “Even on present settings we are going to go over 2 degrees.”

David Barnden, the principal lawyer at Equity Generation Lawyers, who acts on behalf of the teenagers, said the group would defend the appeal.

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The teenagers were supported by Sister Brigid Arthur, an 86-year-old Brigidine nun and former teacher, who is their “litigation guardian” because they are under 18.

Lead litigant Anjali Sharma said it was an “embarrassing” stance for the government to take.

“The government should be taking decisions not to harm future generations,” she said. “The fact they are spending public money on this appeal rather than funding climate solutions is very strange.”

A spokesperson for Ms Ley said she had filed the notice for appeal and was seeking an expedited hearing.

As the matter is before the courts the minister would not comment on the details of the case.

“The minister takes seriously her responsibilities under the act to protect the environment and, in doing so, the interests of all Australians,” the spokesperson said.

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