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Australian Court Overturns Landmark Climate Change Ruling in Case Filed by Teenagers

The Australian government on Tuesday won an appeal against a landmark ruling that it has a duty of care to protect children from the harm caused by climate change when approving new fossil fuel projects, in a case filed by eight teenagers, including an Indian-origin environmentalist. In May, Anjali Sharma, a 17-year-old high-school student of Indian-origin from Melbourne and seven other teenage environmentalists, led the legal battle against the Australian government.The decision was hailed as a world first, but it has been successfully challenged by the Australian environment minister Sussan Ley. The teenagers could still take the case to Australia’s highest court.The Federal Court on Tuesday found Australia’s environment minister Ley did not have a duty of care to protect children from the harm caused by climate change, reported. “Today’s ruling leaves us devastated, but it will not deter us in our fight for climate justice,” said Sharma, in a statement released by their lawyers.Climate change is already wreaking havoc on the lives of Australians. Two years ago, Australia was on fire; today, it’s underwater.” Burning coal makes bushfires and floods more catastrophic and more deadly. Something needs to change. Our leaders need to step up and act. The students’ lawyer David Barnden said their legal team would carefully review Tuesday’s decision, the report added.Independent climate change experts established that Whitehaven’s Vickery coal mine will create a risk of personal injury and death to young Australians, he said. The science has not changed. Irrespective of today’s decision, adults should do all they can to create a safe future for our children.Their case attempted to stop the expansion of the Vickery coal mine in New South Wales, which is estimated to add an extra 170 million tonnes of fossil fuel emissions to the atmosphere. Ley approved the Vickery mine expansion in September last year.She welcomed the federal court’s decision after it upheld her appeal, saying she took her role as environment minister seriously, the report added. Three judges in the Federal Court of Australia unanimously sided with Environment Minister Ley on Tuesday, but their list of reasons differed, the BBC reported.Chief Justice James Allsop said he thought elected officials should decide policy matters, but noted there was “no dispute” in the case that climate change itself caused harm. Justice Michael Wheelahan said there was an “incoherence” between the law and the minister’s obligations to rule that she had a duty of care. Justice Jonathan Beach said there was not “sufficient closeness or directness” between the minister’s decision and “any reasonably foreseeable” harm from the mine.Another student involved in the case, 15-year-old Izzy Raj-Seppings, said: “Our lawyers will be reviewing the judgement and we may have more to say in the coming weeks.” “While today’s judgement did not go our way, there is still much to celebrate. The court accepted that young people will bear the brunt of the impacts of the climate crisis.” Catholic nun Brigid Arthur acted as the teenager’s legal guardian in the case. Last year, she told the BBC that they had “every right to be calling people to account”. A report published at the COP26 global climate summit last year ranked Australia last among 60 countries for policy responses to the climate crisis.The country is the world’s second-largest coal exporter and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the industry will operate there for “decades to come”.Australia has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but it has faced criticism over its 2030 targets.Read all the Latest News , Breaking News and Ukraine-Russia War Live Updates here.

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