It has been an active 12 months in the climate change litigation space, both in Australia and internationally. The political and legal landscape is rapidly evolving and the need to keep pace with these developments is presenting companies with new strategic challenges.
In this update, we provide a summary of three recent key developments in climate change litigation in Australia and New Zealand.
- A class action against the Commonwealth Government has been commenced on behalf of a group of Torres Strait Islander communities in relation to climate change impacts – Pabai Pabai & Anor v Commonwealth of Australia (VID622/2021) (Pabai Pabai).
- The appeal hearing for Sharma v The Minister for the Environment  FCA 560 (Sharma) was heard in October. The Commonwealth made detailed arguments against the appropriateness of recognising a novel duty of care in the context of climate change, as well as with respect to distinguishing Scope 1 and 2 emissions from Scope 3 emissions.
- The New Zealand Court of Appeal in Smith v Fonterra Co-Operative Group Limited  NZCA 552 (Fonterra), upheld the strike out of a claim for public nuisance, negligence and a proposed new tort described as “breach of duty” brought against seven New Zealand companies in relation to their contribution to climate change.
To read more, see our Climate Change Blog post.