The Australian Conservation Foundation has today lodged papers with the Federal Court, applying to challenge environment minister Greg Hunt’s approval of the Carmichael coal mine, which Adani wants to dig in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
ACF will argue the Minister failed to consider whether the impact of climate pollution, resulting from burning the mine’s coal, would be inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
The EPBC Act states that the Minister must not act inconsistently with Australia’s responsibilities under the UN World Heritage Convention.
ACF will also argue that the Minister failed to take into account the submission by the Black Throated Finch Recovery Team. Scientists from that team have warned that if the Carmichael project goes ahead it would push the finch closer to extinction.
“The Great Barrier Reef is loved by Australians and overseas visitors, but it will soon be gone if we allow climate change to keep accelerating,” said ACF President Geoff Cousins.
“Coral reef scientists are telling us in just a few decades warmer waters could bleach the Reef beyond recognition. This would be a tragedy for Australia and the world.
“Minister Hunt has acknowledged climate change is affecting the Great Barrier Reef, yet the approval of the Carmichael mine will create more pollution, make global warming worse and irreversibly damage the Reef.
“ACF believes the Turnbull government’s re-approval of a coal mine that would produce more climate pollution than New Zealand does annually is reckless and irresponsible.
“Taking legitimate legal action in the public interest is central to keeping governments accountable in a democracy,” Mr Cousins said.
“This action is historic; it’s the first case that has sought to test the Environment Minister’s World Heritage obligations as they relate to the climate change impacts on the Reef caused by pollution from burning a mine’s coal.
“If this case is successful it will strengthen climate change considerations and World Heritage protection in Australian law.”
ACF will be represented in Federal Court by Saul Holt QC and the Environmental Defenders Office, Queensland.