Court orders govt to take action on climate change

Trees burn in raging bushfire (action climate change)

Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action (BSCA) has celebrated a landmark win after the NSW Land and Environment Court ruled that the NSW Environment Protection Authority had a duty to take serious action on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. 

It is the first time that an Australian Court has ordered a government to take meaningful action on climate change. 

Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action president Jo Dodds 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,” Ms Dodds said.

“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 like we saw during 2019 and 2020.”

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With the support of the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), BSCA sought to compel the NSW EPA to develop policies that measure and regulate greenhouse gasses in the state. As part of the case, BSCA presented expert scientific evidence from former Australian Chief Scientist Professor Penny Sackett on the links between bushfires and climate change. 

Environmental Defenders Office (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.”

BSCA was founded shortly after the Tathra and District fire in March 2018 to raise the voices of people impacted by bushfires. Its members are people who lost their homes, communities, loved ones and peace of mind in bushfires; people who’ve fought fires as RFS or other volunteers, community leaders concerned about the impact and growing risks of bushfires and primary producers who have watched stock and wildlife impacted by bushfires and their after-effects.