Climate Activism and the Extraordinary Emergency Defence

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Climate activists have attempted to raise the defence of necessity or its statutory equivalent in their trials for over a decade. In Queensland, the codified defence is framed within the context of a sudden or extraordinary emergency. The first attempt by a climate activist to invoke the extraordinary emergency defence in Queensland occurred in May 2019, following a deluge of official declarations of climate emergency by governments at all levels and by institutions. Although this attempt failed, two climate activists will again raise the defence at their trial in March 2020. In this article, I explore the parameters of the defence, the political context in which it is invoked, and the vexed question of what constitutes reasonable conduct on the part of individuals in the absence of an effective, concerted, global response to the climate emergency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
JournalAustralian Law Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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