Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland Proserpine/Whitsunday Branch Inc v Minister for the Environment and Heritage [2006] FCA 736

This was the first legal challenge against the Australian Government for failing to consider the effects of global warming on the environment. A North Queensland conservation group sought judicial review of two decisions made by the Federal Government delegate over the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions from the mining, transport and use of the coal from two large coal mines in Queensland. The mines were expected to produce emissions roughly equivalent to 25% of Australia’s national greenhouse emissions in a single year. Despite the huge scale of their emissions, the mines were found not to trigger the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) and no conditions were imposed upon them to reduce or off-set their emissions. The rewritten judgment will draw on feminist ethic of care arguments, which can be tied to inter-generational equity ideas, to find in the alternative.

Commentary author

Jacqueline Peel is a Professor in the Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne. Prior to her appointment, Jacqueline completed an internship at the United Nations International Law Commission. Jacqueline’s research interest is environmental law.

Judgment author

Lee Godden is a Professor and Director of the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law in the Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne. Lee’s research interests include environmental law, natural resources law (especially water), property law and Indigenous peoples’ land rights.