A Teen's Federal Court Battle against Australia's Environment Minister
Christian Mc Karthy | On 10, Aug 2021
Seventeen-year-old Anjali Sharma made headlines after she and seven other Australian teenagers filed a lawsuit against environment minister Sussan Ley. The group took to the federal court in its bid to stop the approval of a mining project in New South Wales.
Sharma’s claims gained more relevance after the Intergovernmental Panel’s report on Climate Change (IPCC) was released last August. The report warns of the rise of global temperature 1.5°C by 2030.
The group emphasised that the environment minister has a duty of care to prevent injury to young people while doing her job in approving a new mining project. To put it into context, the new coal project will extract about 33 million tons of coal over 25 years. As a result, it will release an estimate of 100 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The case hearing happened for four days in March. Justice Mordecai Bromberg, who was assigned to the case, said that Minister Ley has the duty to protect the young from climate change. However, he refused to grant an injunction to stop the mine expansion; instead, she will have to consider Minister Ley’s appeal before deciding on Sharma’s lawsuit.
Minister Ley, on her side, leaves the matter to the court and finds it inappropriate to comment on details of the case. As for Anjali Sharma, fighting for the environment has never been easy since she started two years ago, and neither is fighting against someone in the government.
Sharma, however, recognises the support they received each time they organised climate change strikes. She wishes that more people can be forthcoming on the climate change crisis. She also feels that schools typically give attention to the topic on a macro level. This leaves out the information on how governments partner with big energy companies that contribute to the destruction of the environment.
For Sharma, it was not an easy route. She had to watch her family, back in India, deal with the severe flooding in 2017. It made her more curious, and she did a lot of research through articles, news, and videos about climate change. The teen activist aims to continue her quest against climate change by mobilising students across Australia to join her cause. While it can be challenging to fight for environmental rights, Sharma believes that it can be done when everyone is united on one cause. She will continue to be a student, study ecological laws, and continuously educate on the effects of climate change and fight for environmental rights.