Tag Archives: Redbank

April 15, 1994 – Greenpeace sues to stop a coal-fired power station.

Can the law be used to save the species (from itself?)  Once upon a time we had reason to believe it, just, might.  On this day in 1994, Greenpeace sued…

“Greenpeace yesterday sought to test a new international treaty on global warming for the first time by filing a lawsuit to stop the construction of a $220 million New South Wales power station [The Redbank one].
The executive director of Greenpeace, Ms Lynette Thorstensen, said the action would test the force of the United Nations convention on climate change, which seeks to cut greenhouse gases.
1994 Kelly, H. 1994. Greenpeace Sues To Halt Building. The Age, 16 April, p.4.

1994 was not a good year for Greenpeace Australia – budget crises, departures and then, in November, they lost this case.  You can read more about the case in the excellent

Bonyhady, T. and Christoff, P. 2007. Climate Law in Australia. Sydney: The Federation Press.

from which the following two quotes are taken

The Redbank case was the first in the world where standing was not an issue and a court had to consider arguments about the substance of climate change.
The capacity of the NSW Land and Environment Court to embrace the new law had just been demonstrated in striking fashion by Justice Paul Stein, the judge who has made the greatest contribution to environmental law in Australia. His characteristically bold decision in Leatch v Shoalhaven City Council involved the precautionary principle which had begun to occupy an increasing place in international agreements and domestic policy documents but had little place in Australian legislation.
(Bonyhady, 2007: 11)

Jonathan Simpkins who represented Greenpeace [page break] argued cogently that the court had both the power and the duty to act. He dwelt on the risk of the courts washing their hands of the issue by saying it was a matter of high policy for someone else which would mean that nothing would be done to address climate change. He dwelt on the danger that each addition to our greenhouse emissions would be cast as too small to warrant action which would similarly mean that climate change would go unchecked. But he could not persuade Justice Marla Pearlman, who, in 11 years as Chief Judge of the Land and Environmental Court, displayed a very different understanding of the judicial function to Paul Stein.
Justice Pearlman became the first, but by no means the last, judge in the world to say climate change was not for her when she declared that it was ‘of course, a matter of government policy… to take into account the competing economic and environmental issues raised by the enhanced greenhouse effect’ and ‘not for the Court to impose… a prohibition on the mine.’
(Bonyhady, 2007:11-12)

Also on this day –

2001 Environment Minister Robert Hill reveals existence of Howard letter to Bush re: Bush pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol  – “Greens Senator Bob Brown said yesterday the letter was mostly a public relations exercise for “domestic consumption”. Clennell, A. 2001. Lead The World On Greenhouse Treaty, PM Urges Bush. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April. p.2.

2014 Clive Hamilton publishes new highly entertaining dirty dozen on Crikey –

March 21, 2007 – Unions want #climate action

Ten years ago today, with climate change on everyone’s mind and a Federal election looming, the Unions stated their case. The excellent journo Rosslyn Beeby, then at the Canberra Times,  had this story-

Beeby, R. 2007. Union pressure on climate. Canberra Times, 22 March.

The ACTU has called for sweeping national reforms across transport, mining, agriculture, construction, education and public health to tackle climate change and generate new jobs. The comprehensive green action plan will increase pressure on federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to adopt a more radical climate change policy as Labor prepares for next month’s national conference. Reforms outlined in the ACTU’s newly endorsed climate change strategy include government subsidies for energy efficient retrofitting of buildings, new mandatory green building codes for all commercial buildings, large-scale reuse of treated effluent, improved vehicle fuel efficiency and greater use of shipping to cut national transport emissions. ACTU secretary Greg Combet described climate change as ”the pre-eminent policy challenge of our time”, and urged industry to ”face up to global warming and be accountable for investing in sustainable jobs rather than raising the fear of job losses and expecting government handouts”.

It all went horribly horribly wrong of course.

Also on this day-

In 1990 Bob Hawke spoke at the National Press Club, ahead of the Federal Election (you are never more than 2 years 11 months from a Federal Election campaign in Australia).  He warned disaffected voters “When you wake up on 25 March,” he said, “there won’t be a Democrat government or a green independent government.”

In 1994 on this day, (on the same day that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into ‘force’) the New South Wales  Singleton Council approved Redbank coal-fired power station. Greenpeace contested this in the courts, and lost…

In 1995, according to

Dwyer, M. 1995. Australia takes strong line against greenhouse rules.  The Australian Financial Review,  21 March.

“FEDERAL Cabinet is today expected to endorse Australia taking a tough stand – at a ministerial meeting on climate change in Berlin next week – against new measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

And indeed, Australian negotiators did got to Berlin hoping to prevent a global agreement. But that agreement – to come up with something the “developed world” would do – got through, and set the path to Kyoto… Of which more later…