Submission: Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity) Bill 2023 Inquiry

by Matthew Ryan

The impacts of climate change on young people and future generations are enormous, approaching unfathomable.

As we saw in the case Sharma v Minister for the Environment, however, the Minister for the Environment is not compelled to consider the impact of decisions on future generations, no matter how dire. This proposed amendment to the Climate Change Act 2022 is a welcome and necessary path forward.

The Australia Institute provided input into a Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications inquiry.

Recent research from the UNEP has highlighted the gap between emissions reduction pledges and the reductions demanded by the most recent climate science, and the further gap between implemented policy and announced targets. Falling short on both fronts, we are on track for between 2.5 and 2.9°C.

Despite this, Australia continues to expand fossil fuel projects, with dramatic implications for the future health and wellbeing of young people. These impacts include heatwaves, bushfires, storms, floods, droughts, and disease. For these reasons we support this proposed amendment, which would require “decision makers should be required to consider the impact of significant decisions on the health and wellbeing of current and future Australian children”.