The New South Wales (NSW) Land and Environment Court gave its landmark judgement in favour of the Bushfire Survivors For Climate Action (BSCA). The NSW Environment Protection Authority has been ordered to take serious action on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
It is a landmark judgement because for the first time the Australian Court has ordered a government to take strict action on the climate crisis, writes Callum Glennen in the news of BSCA.
Jo Dodds, Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action President said, “This is a significant win for everyone who has been affected by bushfires.”
“Bushfire survivors have been working for years to rebuild their homes, their lives, and their communities. This ruling means they can do so with confidence that the EPA must now also work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Global warming is creating the conditions that can lead to hotter and fiercer fires, and all of us need to work to make sure we’re doing everything we can to prevent a disaster as we saw during 2019 and 2020,” she added.
In its judgement, the court noted that the Environment Protection Authority has been negligent towards its duty in helping the state not succumb to the impact of climate change.
The court has ordered the regulator to work on objectives and formulate policies and guidelines to protect the environment from climate change, reported The Guardian.
The EPA in a statement to the newspaper Guardian Australia said that it is, “reviewing the judgement and implications for the EPA. The EPA is an active government partner on climate change policy, regulation, and innovation. It is a part of the whole-of-government approach to climate change embodied by the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework and Net Zero Plan.”
“The EPA is involved in work that assists with and also directly contributes to measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The EPA supports industry to make better choices in response to the impacts of climate change,” the statement added.
BSCA took the help of the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) to pressurize the NSW EPA to develop policies that measure and regulate greenhouse gasses in the state. As part of the evidence for the case, it also presented expert scientific evidence from former Australian Chief Scientist, Professor Penny Sackett, which links the bushfires and climate change.
EDO Director of Legal Strategy Elaine Johnson said, “Today’s decision is a major step forward in holding governments to account on climate policy.”
“As our lead environmental regulator, the EPA has the power to take immediate action on climate change, for example, by putting a price on carbon, or requiring industry to reduce emissions to safe levels through the licences. Now, the EPA has been ordered to take action.”
Johnson highlighted that The EPA is in charge of paving the way as to how to proceed regarding the climate change crisis however they have to do something about it and it should be meaningful.
“What it will mean is that our lead environmental regulator has been ordered to take action to protect NSW people and the environment from climate change,” she added.