Climate change caused by humankind’s production of greenhouse gases is the defining issue of our time.1

The Environmental Defenders Office represents clients in ground-breaking legal actions to stop projects that will worsen climate change, holds to account those responsible for climate change, and pushes for robust environmental laws to protect future generations.

Efforts to minimise climate change are a central pillar of our work, from legal action involving coal mines and unconventional gas extraction, to land clearing and water resource management. 

Legal Action

EDO litigates on behalf of communities impacted by climate change, taking legal action in courts across Australia to protect our environment and way of life.

We develop landmark cases with local clients to ensure companies are accountable for the climate impacts of their projects and held responsible for the carbon emissions generated by their products. 

The cases we bring are decided on the strength of the evidence and application of the law, free from the influence of the fossil fuel lobby and political opportunism.

The landmark victory on behalf of Groundswell Gloucester in the Rocky Hill coal mine case exhibits the power of communities to progress action on climate via the courts.

This was the first hearing of its kind since the historic Paris Agreement, in which a superior jurisdiction court refused approval of the open cut mine after hearing expert testimony about climate change, the global carbon budget and the impacts of burning fossil fuels.

Read more about the Rocky Hill case

Since Rocky Hill, a second major coal mine has been refused, partly on climate grounds, after EDO lawyers took up the case.

The Bylong Valley coal mine was set to produce 6.5 million tonnes of thermal coal per year.  In refusing the mine, the New South Wales Independent Planning Commision found the mine was not in the public interest because,” the long-term environmental, heritage and agricultural costs will be borne by… future generations.”

Read more about the Bylong case

Law Reform

EDO lawyers and scientists are expert advocates for strong environmental laws to protect our communities and ecosystems from climate change. 

We are the respected and informed voice on climate law in Australia and the Pacific. We advise governments and communities, and influence the development of critical legislation.

EDO regularly contributes to public consultation on climate policy. Recommendations in our submissions include introducing a ‘greenhouse gas trigger’ for development applications involving big carbon polluters, putting a price on carbon and supporting communities in transition away from the fossil fuel industry.

Read our submission to the Climate Change Authority on meeting our Paris Agreement targets:

Read our 2017 submission on Australia’s climate change policy review.

Read our report on Climate-Ready Planning Laws for New South Wales.

Across Australia, communities like this are on the front line, defending their homes and our future against the impacts of climate change. 

You can help them by donating to our Environmental Defence Fund.


  1. Climate Change:
  2. Australia’s 2030 Climate Change Target: