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Asia Minute: Coal mine in Australia is blocked on grounds of human rights

Australia Climate
Mark Baker/AP
/
AP
Heavy machinery moves coal at a mine near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, Australia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. Efforts to fight climate change are being held back in part because coal, the biggest single source of climate-changing gases, provides cheap electricity and supports millions of jobs.

The business plan was to develop the largest coal mine in Australia.

The Galilee Coal project has been in the works for years, along with a series of other coal operations in Queensland — in the northeastern part of the country.

Late last week, a court ruling tapped the brakes on the plans.

The president of the Land Court of Queensland said, “Climate change is a key issue” in the case and then the judge went a step further.

She said the impact the coal mine would have on the environment would harm the rights of future generations of First Nations people in Queensland and therefore is not just a matter of climate change, but also of human rights.

Environmental attorneys are already calling the decision a landmark case, but the judge was more modest, saying her decision is merely a recommendation.

The final approval of the mine is up to the state government of Queensland — the largest coal producing region in the country.

Following the rise of the Labor Party in national elections this past spring, Australia has tightened a series of its regulations relating to climate change.

The Financial Times reports this case marks the first time a court in Queensland has blocked the mining of coal based on consideration of human rights.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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