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The landmark climate verdict made by teenagers in Australia has been overturned by an Australian court

The Australian government has successfully challenged a court decision requiring the federal environment minister to consider the impact of carbon emissions on children when authorizing new coal mining projects.

The Federal Court's entire bench issued a unanimous verdict on Tuesday, declaring Environment Minister Sussan Ley should not be subjected to a duty of care, with the three judges providing several grounds for their conclusion.

Chief Justice James Allsop ruled that culpability should not be imposed, citing the minister's lack of control over the harm caused by climate change by her actions, which far outweighed the "small contribution to the overall danger of damage from climate change" from those judgments.

"The lack of proportionality between the tiny increase in risk and lack of control, and the liability for all damaged by heatwaves, bushfires and rising sea levels to all Australians under the age of 18 ongoing into the future, mean that the duty in tort should not be imposed," Allsop said.

In a statement, Ley expressed his appreciation for the decision and stated that the administration would carefully analyze it. "The Morrison Government remains dedicated to conserving our environment for present and future generations," according to the statement.

Tuesday's decision followed a landmark Federal Court decision in May 2021, which stated that the federal environment minister had a duty of care to consider young people before permitting a coal mine extension in New South Wales.

The action was brought by eight Australians under the age of 18, including Melbourne adolescent Anjali Sharma and their legal guardian, Sister Marie Brigid Arthur.

The verdict was extended in July 2021 to apply to all children, not just the applicants, increasing pressure on the government to examine concerns.

Outside the Federal Court in Sydney Tuesday, Sharma, the lead litigant in the case, said she was "devastated by the decision and so, so angry."

"Today, the Federal Court may have sided with the minister's legal arguments against ours. However, this does not affect the minister's moral commitment to take action on climate change and safeguard young people from the harms it would cause. It has no bearing on the science "According to the 17-year-old, "It does not extinguish fires or drain floodwaters."

"Our lawyers will study the verdict, and we will have more to say about possible next measures in the coming weeks, but what I can say today is that we will not give up our battle for climate justice."

"You need a drumbeat, if you like, of information and people saying, 'this is not okay.' And I feel like the young people that pushed this case, they really created a moment to focus people's attention on what climate change means for young Australians. And I think that was really valuable," she said.

The children's initial legal victory didn't stop the government from approving the Whitehaven Vickery coal mine extension. The project was approved in September and will see an open-cut coal mine developed in northwestern New South Wales.

The majority of the coal mined will be metallurgical coal for steel-making, along with thermal coal for export markets, according to the Whitehaven website.

The appeal was heard by Allsop, Justice Jonathan Beach and Justice Michael Wheelahan.

In the ruling delivered by Allsop, Beach found the environment minister shouldn't be held responsible, partly because there wasn't "sufficient closeness and directness between the minister's exercise of statutory power and the likely risk of harm to the respondents and the class that they represent."

Wheelahan said providing duty of a care "did not fit" with the minister's role under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The Australian government is considered a laggard on climate action. In October, days before the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Prime Minister Scott Morrison finally announced the country would join the other developed nations by aiming to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

In recent weeks, record-breaking floods down the country's eastern coast prompted a national emergency declaration as homes and businesses were swamped after a period of heavy rain. It comes two years after fires devastated a large swathe of Australia's most populous states. Both disasters were attributed to climate change.

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