A group of islanders off Australia's north coast are set to file a human rights complaint to the United Nations against the Australian government on, May 13th, over inaction on climate change that is threatening their homes, their lawyers said.
The complaint by eight Torres Strait Islanders marks the first climate change litigation to be brought against Australia based on human rights, said ClientEarth, the UK-based law firm handling the complaint, according to Reuters. Australia's environment minister had no immediate comment on their case.
The claimants, backed by US environmental group 350.org, also launched a petition requesting the Australian government commit at least A$20 million ($14 million) for measures such as seawalls to shield the islands from rising sea levels.
The Torres Strait Islanders also want Australia to cut carbon emissions by at least 65% below 2005 levels by 2030, which would be far more ambitious than the targets set by the conservative government and the opposition Labour party.
At the same time the islanders want thermal coal to be phased out in domestic power generation and for export. Thermal coal is Australia's fourth-biggest resources export.
Torres Strait Islanders are part of Australia's indigenous population, along with Aborigines, who live on small islands dotted between Australia and Papua New Guinea.