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Young man’s faith motivates him to challenge coal mine on grounds it infringes on future generations’ rights

Taking action: Oscar Delaney, 18, is a young Brisbane Christian who has joined a group taking legal action against a proposed new coal mine in Queensland.

TEENAGE Brisbane Christian Oscar Delaney is among a group of young people taking on billionaire businessman Clive Palmer in court over a new coal mine in Queensland.

Mr Delaney, 18, is part of a group of 25 young Queenslanders called Youth Verdict which is taking legal action against the project planned for the state’s Galilee Basin by Mr Palmer’s company Waratah Coal.

Acting on behalf of Youth Verdict, the Environmental Defenders Office, has lodged an objection in the Queensland Land Court, on the grounds that the proposed mega-coal mine infringes on the young people’s human rights because of its contribution to climate change.

It’s the first such challenge of its kind in Australia.

Mr Delaney, whose mother Cathy is Catholic and father Mark is Anglican, is motivated by faith in his environmental activism.

In a recent article he wrote for Anglican Focus, the University of Queensland science student described how he was inspired by the Gospel, and how the example of his parents in living and working among the poor in the slums of India for several years when he was a boy had influenced his actions.

“Knowing how hard it already is for my Indian friends to eke out a decent life for their families, I fear for how they will cope once temperatures soar, seas rise, deserts expand, cyclones pound and crops fail,” Mr Delaney wrote.

“The World Bank, not known for its alarmism, predicts that living standards will worsen for nearly half of India’s population by 2050 – the half that is already really struggling.”

He said one of the most important things he could do for his Indian friends while he was not living there was to help combat climate change.

“One of the many things I have learnt from Jesus is that the personal and the political go hand in hand,” he wrote.

“Jesus did not just pray for the world, he went out and changed it. And, we are called to do likewise – in whatever ways we can.

“Caring for creation and caring for people living in poverty in India are intimately intertwined for me.”

Mr Delaney said he was motivated by “a combination of Christianity and growing up in India and just talking with lots of people who are involved in environmental activism and issues of climate change”.

“I actually believe that even relatively small actions by individuals can have a positive impact on climate policy and climate change, and that even if there wasn’t much impact I feel like it would be just the right thing to do before God,” he said.

“… We’re just individuals doing what we can.”

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