Suing for climate action: can the courts save us from the black hole of political inaction?


Climate litigator David Barnden had a landmark win this month against a major superannuation fund. He tells Guardian Australia he is just getting started

In the public imagination, blockbuster litigation involves grand courtrooms, passionate advocacy and granite-faced judges. These hallmarks were curiously absent from the recent denouement to a lawsuit between 25-year-old Mark McVeigh and his superannuation fund, Rest. No grand oratory from robed barristers, no victory-speeches on the courtroom steps – just a press release and a confidential settlement agreement.

What the conclusion to McVeigh v Rest lacked in symbolism, it made up for in substance. McVeigh’s case, which has resulted in Rest committing to a net zero carbon footprint by 2050 and a suite of short-term measures, is one of the most significant climate litigation outcomes in Australia to date. Its mastermind? A softly-spoken Sydney solicitor, with dual passions for surfing and climate action.

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