The recent decision of Justice Bromberg in Sharma v Minister for the Environment [2021] FCA 560 found that a novel duty of care is owed by the Minister for the Environment to Australian children who might suffer potential “catastrophic harm” from the climate change implications of approving the extension to the Vickery coal mine in New South Wales.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Bromberg J held that the potential harm to children was a mandatory relevant consideration that the Minister was required to take into account as a matter of administrative law in determining the approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act).
  2. Bromberg J also recognised a novel private law duty of care to protect Australian children from personal injury arising from the effects of climate change, noting that “by reference to contemporary social conditions and community standards, a reasonable Minister for the Environment ought to have the Children in contemplation when facilitating the emission of 100 Mt of CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere.”

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