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MEDIA RELEASE: Australia left lagging behind world on climate duty of care for future generations

Young people of today and tomorrow will have their rights left in limbo after a bill to recognise the rights of young people facing the climate crisis and incorporate intergenerational equality into government decision making was rejected by a Labor-led Senate Inquiry. 

Today’s Senate inquiry report has rejected the Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity) Bill 2023, despite strong support within and outside Parliament, including hundreds of civil society submissions in support of the bill.

Grata Fund’s submission to the inquiry supported the critical role of Governments to ensure a duty of care to children and young people when making decisions that impact their climate future. In Australia, no Commonwealth, state or territory law explicitly recognises the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. 

Grata Fund Founder and Executive Director Isabelle Reinecke said:

“Australia lags behind other countries in recognising the rights of young people and future generations facing the climate crisis.

“Australia continues to turn its back on young people who face the consequences of decades of denial and delay.

“In the absence of a national human rights bill, the Australian government could have exercised leadership and legislated a duty of care towards young people and future generations to ensure the world they inherit is one they can safely live and thrive in.

“Australia has a legal responsibility to protect children from foreseeable future climate harms under international law, as a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The bill could have closed a significant gap in Australian law where young people’s rights aren’t protected, given we are so vulnerable to climate impacts. 

“I congratulate Anjali Sharma and Senator David Pocock for leading this important campaign to recognise the rights of young people facing the climate crisis. Time is running out and this fight is far from over. 

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