Aussies urged to change the climate in court
A DUTCH climate-change campaigner is urging Australians to side-step slow-moving politicians and take the battle for carbon-emission reductions to court.
Marjan Minnesma - from Dutch non-government organisation Urgenda, which works on sustainability projects - took the Netherlands government to court to get tougher action taken against greenhouse gases.
She and almost 900 co-plaintiffs argued the government had a duty to protect them and their countrymen and women from the dangers of climate change.
What was widely criticised as a publicity stunt with no legal grounds turned out to be a win, which surprised even Ms Minnesma.
The three judges agreed the government needed to protect its citizens and ordered it adopt more stringent climate policies, including achieving an emissions cut of 25% within five years.
All of the case notes have been translated into English for others considering bringing similar lawsuits against their governments.
"It's basic civil law. They have a duty of care," Ms Minnesma said.
She said people from Australia and across the world had contacted her since the landmark ruling.
"All over the world it's given people hope again," Ms Minnesma said.
Last night, Ms Minnesma made a speech at an event in Brisbane organised by Environmental Defenders Office.
She will also speak in Sydney and Melbourne.
EDO Queensland principal solicitor Sean Ryan said public interest in using the law to address climate change was stronger than ever.
"Australian governments are actively avoiding considering the climate-change impacts of the expansion of our fossil-fuel industry," he said.
Australia is the biggest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The Federal Government has made a target for greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 to be 5% below 2000 levels.
Mr Ryan said the EDO needed to discuss with academics how the case compared to the Australian legal system before launching any cases.