EDOA joins Bali case against power plant

EDOA joins Bali case against power plant expansion

The Environmental Defenders Offices of Australia (EDOA) have joined nine international and Indonesian public interest environmental law organisations to file an amici curiae brief (friends of the court) to assist a Denpasar Court as it hears a lawsuit about the proposed expansion of Celukan Bawang coal-fired power plant in Bali.

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The Amici brief aims to articulate international best practice in climate change impact assessment in order to assist Denpasar Administrative Court in determining the validity of the power plant’s environmental permit.

Speaking on the significance of EDOA joining the case, EDO WA Principal Lawyer Declan Doherty said, “Bali is a place many Australians cherish. EDOs are prominent environmental law organisations in this region and we felt a consequent responsibility to assist the Denpasar court as they grapple with climate change impact assessments. Through the Amicus submission, EDOA can provide information about Australian experiences with climate change law, in particular to highlight the findings of the Australian (NSW) case of Gray v the Minister for Planning, which found that environmental assessments did need to consider climate change.”

Mr Doherty continued, “Clearly the Australian regulatory regime for addressing climate change is far from perfect. Recent Court decisions here highlight the lack of meaningful application of aspirational climate change policies in our environmental laws. Nevertheless, it is important for public interest environmental lawyers to share their experiences internationally in pursuance of better regulation of this issue, which is truly global.”  

Both Australia and Indonesia have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its subsequent protocols, including the Paris Agreement. However, just last week a NSW court found that the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework and the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement were not relevant policies under NSW mining law, highlighting the shortcomings of Australia’s regulatory regime when it comes to climate change.   

This Bali power plant expansion would burn almost 3 million tons of coal per year. For 30 years of operation, the plant would release more than 200 million tons of CO2. By taking into account the release of emissions from Indonesia’s 35 GW energy project, of which 60% is from coal, it is likely this project will hamper the realisation of Indonesia’s international commitment to 29% (or 41% with international aid) greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2030.