(Image: Tom Red/Private Media)

The Morrison government has been forced to acknowledge that climate change driven by coal consumption will inflict massive costs on Australia but argues it owes no duty of care to Australian children in relation to it, according to documents it has filed in a landmark case.

Sharma v Minister for Environment, filed last year by eight young people against Environment Minister Sussan Ley, seeks to prevent the government from greenlighting a major expansion of the proposed Vickery coalmine in New South Wales, owned by Coalition donor and National Party-linked Whitehaven Coal. The case is awaiting judgment in the Federal Court in Melbourne.

The government's statement of response, prepared by the government solicitor, makes for interesting reading in light of its refusal to address climate change and its support for more coal-fired power stations, its "gas-led recovery" and support for discredited fossil-fuel technologies like carbon capture and storage.