Gloucester hearing: Week two – climate change on trial
This week the Land and Environment Court heard evidence, for the first time, on climate science and the urgent need to stay within the global carbon budget by leaving the Gloucester coal reserve in the ground.
The hearing this week focused on evidence from expert witnesses on visual and noise impacts, climate science and energy finance, the economics of coal, town planning and the social impacts of a mine on the town’s doorstep.
Tuesday provided a first for Australian courts, with detailed evidence from Emeritus Professor Will Steffen on the global carbon budget, which must not be exceeded if temperature rise is to be kept at less than two degrees Celsius (on pre-Industrial levels). Professor Steffen says that in order for Australia to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement, the coal reserve at Rocky Hill cannot be developed at this point in time:
“Step number 1, if you're really serious about the Paris targets, is no new fossil fuel developments… You cannot reduce emissions by increasing them.”
Members of our client Groundswell Gloucester at the hearing midweek.
The court also heard from energy analyst Tim Buckley on the risk that the coal mine would become a stranded asset given market trends away from coal; acoustics expert Stephen Gauld on the noise nuisance from the mine; and on Friday, anthropologist and expert on regional communities and displacement Hedda Askland on the social impacts should the mine go ahead.
Next week the Court will hear closing submissions over Monday and Tuesday.
Background: The Land and Environment Court is hearing a challenge from Gloucester Resources Limited and Yancoal Australia to the refusal to approve a greenfield mine application, known as the Rocky Hill Coal Project, and the associated modification to the Stratford Coal Extension Project. Environmental Defenders Office NSW and counsel Robert White are acting for Groundswell Gloucester who are a respondent in this case.
More on our site:
- Gloucester coal mine hearing: Week one
- Gloucester coal mine puts climate change on trial
- Gloucester’s Rocky Hill coal mine hearing begins
- Case page