Indigenous Australians' legal battle

| 6th June 2019
Torres strait Islanders
ClientEarth is supporting a world-first climate case for Torres Strait Islanders in Australia.


ClientEarth is supporting a group of indigenous Australians as they battle to save the islands that have been home to their unique culture for thousands of years.

We're helping the group to launch a world-first complaint against their government for failing to act on climate change. They’re pressing for immediate action: without it they’re at risk of becoming climate refugees in their own country.

The Torres Strait is a hidden jewel north of mainland Australia. It's home to one of the world's oldest living cultures but rising tides are already flooding homes, lands and cultural sites. The situation will continue to get worse as the effects of climate change ratchet up.

Devastating prospect

The people of the Torres Strait are facing the devastating prospect of their Islands disappearing beneath the waves.

With our support, a group of eight Torres Strait Islanders are taking legal steps to fight and save their idyllic island home.

A complaint has been submitted against the Australian government to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. It alleges that the effects of Australia’s insufficient plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and its failure to fund coastal defences constitute a violation of their human rights.

The Islanders hope that the case will force the Australian government to act. They need coastal defence measures to tackle the rising tides that are happening today. And they are urging politicians in Canberra to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and limit the impact in the future.

Unique culture

Tell Australia's prime minister to act on climate change.

We are proud to be working with the group of Islanders in the battle to save their unique culture. In order to do that we have developed an approach that is legally ground-breaking.

Our hope is that as well as helping the people of the Torres Strait, it will also help others affected by climate change as they seek to hold their governments to account for their failure to act.

This  Author 

Sophie Marjanac is project lead for climate accountability and ClientEarth. 

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