"We’re asking our Environment Minister to face the reality of climate change, understand the science, and act." – Christine Carlisle, ECoCeQ
The legal requests
Under a rarely used section of the EPBC Act, Environmental Justice Australia, on behalf of their client ECoCeQ, has submitted 19 reconsideration requests to the minister, covering almost all new coal and gas proposals awaiting federal approval
These requests, plus an enormous bank of evidence, set out in excruciating clarity the climate risk from these fossil fuel proposals to thousands of animals, plants and places in Australia that are nationally significant living wonders.
About our environment law
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act is the central piece of Australia’s environmental protection framework.
It gives the minister a vital responsibility: the fate of nationally significant places, ecosystems, plants and wildlife. The minister must safeguard animal and plant species at risk of extinction, as well as places of deep significance for First Nations people, World Heritage sites, National Parks, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, internationally significant wetlands and marine environments.
The legal intervention
Environmental Justice Australia lawyers, on behalf of their client Environment Centre of Central Queensland (ECoCeQ), have submitted 19 requests to Tanya Plibersek, asking her to reconsider the first stage of the assessment of almost all of the pending coal and gas proposals and expansions across the country, currently on her desk.
Some of these proposals were recently considered, while others had controlling provisions set a decade ago. For all of these proposals, however, previous Environment Ministers did not identify climate harm as a risk to matters of national environmental significance.
When a matter of national environmental significance is set as a “controlling provision,” that means harm to those places or species must be properly assessed before the project can be approved.
ECoCeQ has provided Minister Plibersek with 3000 documents and spreadsheets listing the direct and indirect impacts of climate change, as documented in thousands of research papers by scientists the Australian government pays, doing research it commissions and authorises, in reports it publishes.
The minister will also receive continent-wide mapping evidence showing for the first time the impact of climate-fuelled bushfires on all of the species and places under her watch.
ECoCeQ is arguing the Environment Minister has an obligation to review significant information, including the government’s vast body of scientific evidence, and account for the detrimental effect of climate change on several thousand matters of environmental significance.
The decisions Tanya Plibersek makes over the next three years will shape whether or not our living wonders – like koalas, sea turtles and platypuses – can beat extinction, and thrive.
The evidence is overwhelming. The science is stark.
But the future is not yet written. We can write it together, right now.