Landmark Coal Victory in Australia Celebrated Worldwide

Gloucester residents Julie Lyford, Sue Kingston, EDO NSW solicitor Matt Flora, and Pippa Robinson.

We are thrilled to announce that ELAW partners at the Environmental Defenders Office in New South Wales (EDO NSW) have won an enormous victory for communities and the climate.
“The nascent field of climate litigation in Australia came of age on Friday,” writes EDO NSW’s David Morris and Brendan Dobbie in an opinion piece in Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald.
“The Chief Judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court, Brian Preston, delivered a landmark judgment refusing to approve a new coal mine because of its impacts on climate change. In the Chief Judge’s words, the mine proposal was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
BeomJin Kim, International Program Manager at EDO NSW shared the victory this week with ELAW partners around the world. He wrote:
“We have some incredibly good news to share. Last Friday, our client, Groundswell Gloucester, received a historic judgment in the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales.  The Court refused the proposed Rocky Hill open cut coal mine project, located in Gloucester, 220km north of Sydney, saying that the project would be “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.  Wrong time because of its cumulative contribution to climate change at a time when “rapid and deep” decreases in global GHG emissions are required to meet international targets.
This is the first time an Australian court has refused a coal mine on climate change grounds.
This case will have implications for all new coal projects in Australia and we hope internationally.
The judgment is the culmination of the tireless efforts of all those who have campaigned and litigated against coal over the last 20 years – and is a huge victory for us all!!”
Coal is a dirty, outdated fuel that is destroying the climate. The judge recognized that coal mining also has severe impacts on communities. ELAW will work with partners to replicate the Australia victory around the world.  
Jean Lambert Lisika writes from Kinshasa:
“This decision is very interesting. It will inspire us in many cases where the environmental impacts of open-pit cobalt mining, and even uranium, are quite severe at some sites in my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Jean Lambert is Secretary General of the Centre Congolais pour le Droit du Développement Durable (Congolese Center for Law and Sustainable Development, CODED).
For more information, see:
The Guardian, February 11, 2019
The win to stop the Rocky Hill coalmine happened in the right place and just in time
The Sydney Morning Herald, February 11, 2019
Coal miners derided climate action ‘sideshow’. Now it’s the main event
The Guardian, February 8, 2019
Court rules out Hunter Valley coalmine on climate change grounds
Sydney Morning Herald, February 8, 2019
‘Delicious irony’: How miner’s challenge became a climate change win
For an overview of legal strategies to defeat coal and protect the climate around the world, visit:
ELAW Coal Litigation Strategies
ELAW Climate Litigation Strategies
For information about ELAW’s work around the world, contact:
Maggie Keenan
ELAW Communications Director

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