The Rocky Hill Coal Mine Case

The Rocky Hill Coal Mine Case
March 2, 2019 Christina Mullin

Inspiring News: A Group of Residents Prevented a Coal Mine from Being Built in their community in Australia.

The Rocky Hill coal mine caseis being hailed as a landmark in “climate litigation” – and not just in Australia. So what is climate litigation? And what impact is it having on companies and governments around the world?

NSW court sent shock waves through the nation’s mining industry earlier this month when it rejected a coal mine planned in Gloucester, a dairy and beef farming area on the state’s mid-north coast. The reason, in part, was the mine’s impact on climate change.

That a court had taken into account climate change was lauded as a landmark. But this case is just part of a much bigger picture. All around the world, there is a growing push to use the law to nudge companies and investors to take action to curb global warming – particularly as our politicians are failing to do so. The growth in international jurisprudence directly linking fossil fuel developments with climate change may also lead banks and others who would traditionally invest in these industries to consider alternatives.

Climate litigation is emerging everywhere around the world, meaning that people have an interest in seeing what courts in other countries decide. In Norway, for example, NGOs are challenging the constitutionality of a government decision to license new blocks of the Barents Sea for deep-sea oil and gas extraction.

One reason for the rise in climate litigation is that the science is becoming ever better understood. That provides a deeper and richer evidence base that – unlike much of our parliamentary debate or the shadowy conspiracist corners of the internet – can withstand cross-examination.

Given that meeting the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals requires leaving a significant portion of fossil fuels in the ground, this acknowledgment by the judge in Rocky Hill is of great importance, not only for Australia but also for other fossil fuel-producing countries where litigation is taking place.

Excerpted from a longer piece