Australian environmentalists plan to sue their government for its slow response to climate change, following legal action taken in the Netherlands that resulted in a landmark court decision which ordered its government to hurry up and cut greenhouse emission. The legal action was taken by Dutch environmental group Urgenda.
Climate change has been a major political issue in Australia for some time, especially after the present Government headed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott last year repealed a carbon tax that was introduced in 2011. The carbon tax was intended to reduce the impact of climate change and according to experts had been successful.
Ariane Wilkinson a spokesman for legal firm Environmental Justice Australia, said her firm had “several clients” that were “very concerned about Government inaction on climate change” and were interested in using the justice system to force the Government to take measures to stop “dangerous climate change” .
A 2014 Australian Bureau of Meteorology report on climate change, noted several key concerns including a dramatic increase in Australia’s temperatures and increases in floods, droughts and bush fires, all linked to climate change.
Expert say that since the beginning of the 20th century the country has experienced an annual increase of one degree Celsius, with climate warming over the last 50 years taking place at twice the rate than in the previous 50 years.
A Urgenda spokesman said the Dutch decision would have a global Domino effect beginning with plans by environmental lawyers in Melbourne to take action against the Australian Government for dragging its heels in introducing legislation to counter climate change.
The Dutch and Australians aren’t the only one suing their governments, as a group of tiny South Pacific islands are also suing major polluters due to the effects of climate change, effectively creating a new legal model to attack polluters – including governments themselves.