Two Torres Strait Islander community leaders have launched Australia's first-ever Indigenous climate change class action suit.
Paul Kabai and Pabai Pabai, who are from the remote Torres Strait islands Boigu and Saibai in Gudamalulgal, filed the action on October 26.
They argue the Commonwealth has a legal "duty of care" towards Torres Strait Islander people, arising from negligence law and the Torres Strait Treaty and Native Title.
They claim not taking action against climate change breaches that duty of care.
The case was launched on the same day Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the federal government's plan to reduce emissions to zero by 2050.
Mr Kabai and Mr Pabai are concerned their flat and low-lying islands, which sit at about one-and-a-half metres above sea level, will be decimated by rising seas.
"The government's failure to prevent the climate crisis means our islands could be flooded, our soils ruined by salt and our communities forced to leave," Mr Kabai said.
"Becoming climate refugees means losing everything: our homes, our culture, our stories and our identity. If you take away our homelands, we don't know who we are."
Mr Pabai said being forced to leave Boigu was like being part of the stolen generations.
"I can't imagine being forced to leave Boigu because this island is me and I am this island," he said.
"If you take us away from this island then we're nothing. It's like the stolen generation, you take people away from their tribal land, they become nobodies."
The islands of Boigu and Saibai are part of the state of Queensland, situated just south of Papua New Guinea.
The action will be based on a 2015 Dutch case, in which the District Court of The Hague ordered the Netherlands government to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 per cent by the end of 2020.
This case is supported by the same environmental group that launched the Dutch case, the Urgenda Foundation.
"When we launched our litigation in the Netherlands there was a view that a case like this was impossible and had no chance of success," Urgenda lawyer Dennis Van Berkel said.
"Instead we won, and this led the Government to adopt a sweeping set of policies to reduce emissions."
Litigation firm Phi Finney McDonald and Victorian barrister Fiona McLeod SC represent the plaintiffs pro bono, with funding support from charity Grata Fund.
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