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Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity

Children's Rights


Learn more about the human right to climate change and the Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity) Bill 2023.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (Commission) has provided its submission to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity) Bill 2023 (Bill).

The Bill

At its core, the Bill proposes a statutory duty to promote intergenerational equity in decision-making impacting large-scale greenhouse gas emission projects. 

This is a fundamental principle of international environmental law that states that present generations have a duty to protect the environment for the benefit of future generations. 

This aligns with Australia’s long-standing international obligations and commitments concerning both environmental protection from the impacts of climate change, and the protection of children’s rights.  


The Bill does this by incorporating the health and wellbeing of children as a mandatory consideration when making decisions that would result in significant greenhouse gas emissions. 

This approach is commendable both for recognising the importance of considering children as a unique group with their own vulnerabilities, and simultaneously for linking climate considerations and environmental law – as established by international principles but so far lacking in Australia’s legislated framework.

This approach embodies the promotion of intergenerational equity, an approach Australia has committed to on the international stage, both concerning seeking to limit the adverse effects of climate change and relating to the protection of child rights.

Rights of children

However, the Bill is still not consistent with Australia’s international obligations and commitments. 

General Comment No. 26 on the Convention of the Rights of the Child emphasises the need for a consistent global response to address the adverse effects of environmental degradation on the enjoyment of all children’s rights.


The Commission makes six substantive recommendations for consideration. To read the recommendations in full, click the link to download a copy of the submission.