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Duty of care

In 2020, eight young people and a nun led a landmark legal challenge against Whitehaven’s Vickery coal mine. In a world-first ruling in May 2021, Justice Bromberg of the Federal Court held that the environment minister has a duty of care to protect young people from the harms caused by climate change. The Court found that the impacts of global warming on young people “might fairly be described as the greatest intergenerational injustice ever inflicted by one generation of humans upon the next”.

The Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley later successfully appealed the court’s decision that she has a duty of care to protect young people from climate change, allowing Vickery to proceed.

“The decisions that they make right now will impact us in the future. We’re the ones who are going to have to live with the decisions, we’re going to have to raise the next generation under those decisions, and we just want a future that is guaranteed to be safe for us. They truly do have a duty of care towards us.”
- Anjali Sharma, 17-year-old lead applicant in the case against Whitehaven's Vickery coal mine.