Trends in climate litigation – continued focus on disclosure, portfolio analysis, and role of individual activities in broader climate impacts

The settlement this week of Mr McVeigh’s proceeding against REST has underlined management of climate risk and TCFD-aligned disclosure as growing issues for institutional investors. Other recent developments include a further post-approval challenge to a coal mine, asserting that new expert evidence regarding climate change impacts on the Great Barrier Reef should be taken into account to revoke the approval decision and prosecution for import of synthetic greenhouse gas where a single offence attracted an agreed penalty of $500,000. Read more

Young Australians bring climate claims against the Australian government

A group of Australian teenagers has filed a class action against the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment, and is seeking an injunction to prevent the Minister approving a proposed coal mine expansion. The claim alleges that approving the mine would breach the Minister’s common law duty of care to young people. The case follows the recent landmark proceedings alleging that the Commonwealth and others failed to properly disclose information about climate change risks to prospective investors in government bonds. We provide a snapshot of the issues and implications of these proceedings. Read more

WA Environmental Protection Act Reform – Bill Tabled

Government’s intent to reform the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) has been formalised with the tabling of the Environmental Protection Amendment Bill 2020 (WA) on 16 April 2020. While framed as a modernisation of the Act, the substantive reform proposed in the Bill is modest in nature and not comparable to the wholesale reform elsewhere in Australia. However, a number of the amendments will see far greater clarity and real procedural efficiencies, particularly in the Part IV and Part V assessment and approval processes. Read more