In February 2019, EDO secured a landmark legal victory, with the refusal of the proposed Rocky Hill coal mine in the New South Wales Upper Hunter region. A key factor in the win was the mine’s potential impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
The once-in-a-generation case was the first time since the Paris Agreement that expert testimony about the global carbon budget and the impacts of burning fossil fuels was heard in a superior jurisdiction court. It was also the first time an Australian court had refused consent to a fossil fuel development partly on the basis of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts.
On behalf of clients Groundswell Gloucester, EDO argued the mine was against the public interest and principles of ecologically sustainable development because of its significant social, environmental and climate change impacts.
The court heard detailed evidence on climate change and the global carbon budget. Around sixty community objectors – including farmers, doctors and Traditional Owners – also gave evidence on the social, cultural and environmental impacts of the mine.
The court found that carbon emissions from the mine will contribute to global warming. Significantly, it held that it was not important that these emissions would only be a fraction of total global emissions, noting that the problem of climate change needs to be addressed by many local actions. The court also found that the mine’s economic benefits had been substantially overstated.
This landmark case puts Australia well and truly on the map in terms of international climate change litigation. EDO is at the forefront of public environmental interest lawyers using the law to protect our climate and environment for current and future generations.
EDO New South Wales is the legal entity acting in this case. EDO NSW began trading as EDO Ltd in September 2019.