Australia’s Response to “Duty of Care” Judgement: We Have A Fossil-Fuel Heart

The big polluters down under are trying to work out how to make as much money as possible before time runs out for fossil fuels. In a recent judgement, High Court Judge Mordecai Bromberg determined that the Federal Environment Minister has a duty of care for the future of the children of this country.

It is worth quoting a few paragraphs, the language is quite forceful.

It is difficult to characterize in a single phrase the devastation that the plausible evidence presented in this proceeding forecasts for the children. As Australian adults know their country, Australia will be lost and the world as we know it, gone as well. The physical environment will be harsher, far more extreme and devastatingly brutal when angry. As for the human experience – quality of life, opportunities to partake in nature’s treasures, the capacity to grow and prosper – all will be greatly diminished. 

Lives will be cut short. Trauma will be far more common and good health harder to hold and maintain. 

None of this will be the fault of nature itself. It will largely be inflicted by the inaction of this generation of adults, in what might fairly be described as the greatest intergenerational injustice ever inflicted by one generation of humans upon the next. 

To say that the children are vulnerable is to understate their predicament.

This, coupled with the recent judgement against Shell in the Netherlands and the coming carbon tariffs from the EU, mean that Australia’s ability to generate revenue from “carbon emission products” is declining rapidly.

Sadly, the minister’s response to this judgement is to appeal, and the response of big business is to ask the federal parliament to step in with urgent action to support the affected industries. In a recent opinion piece in The Australian (July 29, 2021), Robert Gottliebsen described the gas, oil, and coal industries as the heart of the nation. Is he saying that Australia has a black fossil-fueled heart? Perhaps the heart of darkness?

One must ask, aren’t our children and grandchildren the heart, the soul, and the future of the nation? 

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