Sydney Arena - - SYDNEY NEWS -

A Syd­ney court judge has con­cluded that hu­man-made hy­dro­car­bon emis­sions - caused from the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els - are cre­at­ing green­house gases that are warm­ing the cli­mate.

The rul­ing to refuse a new open-cut coal mine in the Hunter Val­ley, a short drive from Syd­ney, has re­ver­ber­ated across com­mu­ni­ties fight­ing coal and coal seam gas in Aus­tralia.

It was the first time an Aus­tralian court had heard ex­pert ev­i­dence about the ur­gent need to stay within a global car­bon bud­get in the con­text of a pro­posed new coal mine.

The En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fend­ers Of­fice of NSW said the judg­ment is gen­er­ally ap­pli­ca­ble to any coal mine in Aus­tralia.

As well, the court’s con­clu­sions have in­ter­na­tional im­pli­ca­tions in USA and Europe where cli­mate cam­paign­ers seek out le­gal al­ter­na­tives for cut­ting green­house gas emis­sions.

Pre­sid­ing judge Brian Pre­ston in the New South Wales Land and En­vi­ron­ment Court found cli­mate change to be one of the more im­por­tant fac­tors to con­sider un­der State leg­is­la­tion and that he had based his find­ings on rel­e­vant sci­en­tific ev­i­dence.

The find­ings have been de­scribed as a sig­nif­i­cant court de­ter­mi­na­tion on the mit­i­ga­tion of po­ten­tially dis­as­trous cli­mate change.

Jus­tice Pre­ston was pre­sid­ing over a over case be­tween the NSW Plan­ning Min­is­ter and Glouces­ter Re­sources on Feb­ru­ary 8 and con­cluded that the mine project was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”

GHG emis­sions of coal mines and coal prod­ucts in­crease global to­tal con­cen­tra­tions of GHGs at a time when what is now ur­gently needed, in or­der to meet gen­er­ally agreed cli­mate tar­gets, is a rapid and deep de­crease in GHG emis­sions, he stated.

Jus­tice Pre­ston noted that “all an­thro­pogenic green­house gas emis­sions con­trib­ute to cli­mate change,” and given in­creas­ing global mo­men­tum to tackle cli­mate change, he noted that other coun­tries may well fol­low this lead in re­ject­ing fu­ture coalmine pro­pos­als.

Green­house gas emis­sions of the coal mine - and its coal prod­uct – would in­crease to­tal global con­cen­tra­tions at a time when what is now ur­gently needed to meet gen­er­ally agreed cli­mate tar­gets is a rapid and deep de­crease, Jus­tice Pre­ston con­cluded.

Jus­tice Pre­ston’s find­ings rec­og­nized an ac­cep­tance of the need for a car­bon bud­get to keep global av­er­age tem­per­a­tures from ris­ing more than 1.5 to 2 de- grees com­pared to pre-in­dus­trial times, as agreed in the Paris cli­mate ac­cord.

Such a bud­get for hu­man emis­sions will mean “most fos­sil fuel re­serves will need to re­main in the ground un­burned”, Jus­tice Pre­ston con­cluded.

Judge Brian Pre­sion

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