Legal activism by environmental groups poses a significant risk to Australia’s economic growth and jobs in the regions. A companion report, Green tape and environmental activism, suggests that the impending passage of the Climate Change Bill 2022 and the accompanying Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022 will open up a floodgate of courtroom activism by fringe environmental groups to frustrate development projects. This is a key part of the mechanism behind achieving the government’s target of 43% emissions reduction by 2030.

The first wave of courtroom activism is already upon us, with the Environmental Council of Central Queensland having formally submitted a series of requests to the federal Minister for the Environment to revoke approvals for almost every pending coal and gas project across the nation – as reported in The Australian Financial Review. In all, the environmental group is challenging the approval of 19 resources projects including fourteen coal projects in Queensland, four coal projects in New South Wales and a gas project in Western Australia.

This report estimates the expected total contribution of these 19 projects to the Australian economy as a measure of the immediate cost of the first wave of environmental legal activism under the new regime. It also estimates the number of jobs that the projects could directly and indirectly create in regions such as the Hunter Valley and North Queensland, all of which are now at risk as a result of the ECCQ’s challenge to their environmental approvals.

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