SYDNEY – Eight Australian teenagers will face the country’s government in court to prevent the expansion of a coal mine to highlight that climate change is detrimental to the health of young people around the world.
The class action lawsuit against the Minister of the Environment Sussan Ley was presented on Tuesday in Melbourne before the Federal Court and opposes the expansion of the Vickery mine, some 333 kilometers northwest of Sydney, youth legal team sources told the EFE.
The legal challenge is led by 16-year-old environmental activist Anjali Sharma and other students from the School Strike 4 Climate student movement, which has organized several demonstrations in recent years to demand that the Australian government take urgent action against the climate crisis.
The lawsuit argues that the Government “has a duty to take care of young people in the face of the contribution to climate change of this mine,” David Barnden, a lawyer for the Equity Generation Lawyers, which represents adolescents, told EFE.
The lawyer explained that the lawsuit addresses “the potential impact on health, the economy, in addition to physical repercussions such as climatic events, fires and other aspects such as the higher prevalence of tropical diseases.”
If Ley were to grant final authorization for the expansion, the Vickery mine would emit, as indicated, 370 million tons of coal over the next 25 years, equivalent to 70 percent of the total domestic emissions recorded in Australia in 2019.
The expansion of the mine would provide a net benefit of about $869 million to the state of New South Wales and would create about 950 jobs, according to the Australian company Whiteheaven Coal, in charge of the project.
But if the courts were to agree with the youth, the decision would set a precedent for the approval of future fossil fuel projects in Australia, Barnden said.
“What is unique about this case is that it is the first-class action lawsuit for minors in the world,” Barnden said.
Also, in Australia, 23-year-old law student Katta O’Donnell plans to file a class action lawsuit against the Australian government, charged with not currently disclosing to investors the financial risks associated with the climate crisis.
Climate change is a controversial issue in the country, which has pledged to cut emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, prompting the Labor government to fall over a tax on emissions.
In Australia, there is a strong conservative political sector that seeks to maintain the exploitation of fossil fuels, arguing that alternative energies or measures to mitigate climate change raise electricity rates.