Sign the Open Letter to the Law Council of Australia and its Constituent Bodies
We, the undersigned, acknowledge that the laws and customs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations cared for the Australian continent and islands for more than 60,000 years. Our laws must continue to protect this land and its inhabitants, in the future.

We, the undersigned, call on the Law Council of Australia and its constituent bodies to declare a climate emergency in recognition of the need for urgent action to address the climate crisis. We also call on the Law Council of Australia and its constituent bodies to back the declaration up with urgent action, including:

1. Supporting members of the legal profession who wish to participate in the September 20 Climate Strike, and their employers, through involvement in initiatives such as the Not Business As Usual Alliance.
2. Mobilising pro bono legal resources to assist the communities most affected by the climate crisis, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Iander communities, communities affected by natural disasters and drought, and communities transitioning awy from fossil fuel-based industries.
3. Mobilising the legal profession to develop and support independent legal observer projects to observe interactions between the police and the public during climate strikes.
4. Highlighting the shared nature of the professional responsibility of lawyers to be aware of and act on climate change issues by developing and implementing a framework for lawyers to adopt a climate conscious approach in their daily legal practice, consistent with legal ethics.
5. Promote improvement of the law in relation to climate change for the benefit of the community.
6. Through its Climate Change committee and other mechanisms, advise governments about the legal implications of climate change and appropriate law reform or strategies, including measures to support achievement of the Paris Agreement aims of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Supporting organisations as at 21 October 2019

• Action Ready: Legal Resources for the Climate Movement
• Asia Pacific College of Business and Law, Charles Darwin University
• Andrew Pyke Consulting
• Australian Earth Laws Alliance
• Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
• Australian Network of Environmental Defenders Offices
• Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre
• Environmental Justice Australia
• Far West Community Legal Centre
• Grata Fund
• Griffith Law School
• Hub Community Legal
• Muslim Legal Network Queensland
• Phi Finney McDonald
• Townsville Community Legal Service Inc

Supporting individuals as at 21 October 2019

• Jacqueline Abboud, Student, RMIT
• Talia Afmiraal, Solicitor
• Ashleigh Agosta
• Emily Ahrens, Solicitor
• Sanjay Alapakkam, UNSW Law Student
• Victoria Allen, Law Graduate
• David Ananian-Cooper, Barrister
• Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, Senior Lecturer, TC Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland
• Sophie Angell, Solicitor
• Thalia Anthony, Law Student
• Donald K. Anton, Professor of International Law, Director, Law Futures Centre, Griffith University
• Rawan Arraf, Director & Principal Solicitor, Australian Centre for International Justice
• Dr Elena Aydos, Senior Lecturer, Newcastle Law School
• Professor Paul Babie
• Alexander Baird, JD Student, RMIT University
• Kerry Baker, JD Student, RMIT
• Sharmilla Bargon, Solicitor, Employment Law Practice, Redfern Legal Centre
• Greg Barns, Barrister, Salamanca Chambers, Hobart, Sessional Lecturer, JD Program, Graduate School of Business and Law
• Professor Lorana Bartels, Criminology Program Leader, Fellow, Australian Academy of Law, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods
• Dr Susan Bartie, Law Lecturer, University of Tasmania
• Sandra Di Bartolomeo, Legal Consultant
• Lucy Bashfield, JD and Master of Social Work Student
• Miss Sussann Beer
• Sophie Belmonte, Law Student, Charles Sturt University
• Dr Felicity Bell, Solicitor, UNSW Law
• Dr Justine Bell-James, Senior Lecturer, TC Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland
• Krystal Bellamy, Solicitor
• Erin Bennett, JD Student, RMIT University
• Lauren Benson, Lawyer, Canberra
• Dr Laurie Berg, UTS Law Faculty
• Michael Berkman MP, Qld Greens Member for Maiwar
• Laura Bianchi, Solicitor, Redfern Legal Centre
• Professor Katherine Biber, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney
• Dr Philip Birch, Centre for Law & Justice, Charles Sturt University
• Michelle Blazek, Solicitor
• Sophie Boden, Solicitor
• Ben Boer, Emeritus Professor, The University of Sydney Law School
• Cheryl Bonnefin, Law Graduate
• Stephanie Booker, CEO and Principal Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office ACT
• Claire Bookless, Lawyer, Environmental Defenders Office (Tasmania)
• Dr Louise Boon-Kuo, Lecturer, University of Sydney Law School
• Dr Keely Boom, Lawyer and Executive Officer, Climate Justice Programme
• Laurence Boulle AM, Adjunct Professor of Law, Australian Catholic University, Bond University, University of the Witwatersrand and University of the South Pacific
• Sean Bowes, Solicitor
• Heidi Bradburn, Solicitor
• Michael Bradley, MARQUE Lawyers
• Professor Simon Bronitt, Head of School and Dean, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney
• Jennifer Brown, PhD Candidate, University of Tasmania, School of Law
• Venetia Brown, Lawyer and Academic, ALRC and Queensland University of Technology
• Catherine Browning, Lawyer
• Leisha Browning, In-house Counsel on demand
• Jo-Anne Bragg, Solicitor, CEO, Environmental Defenders Office (Qld) Inc.
• Sarah Breusch, Solicitor, University of Newcastle Legal Centre
• Georgia Brinkworth, Law Student
• Associate Professor Karen Bubna-Litic, University of South Australia
• Dion Bull, Law Student, Environmental Graduate, Paralegal
• Rebecca Bunting, Law Graduate
• Micah Burch, Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney Faculty of Law
• Louisa Burke, Solicitor
• Peter Burdon, Associate Professor, Adelaide Law School
• Dr Sarah Butcher, Academic
• Dr Chris Butler, Lecturer, Griffith Law School, Griffith University
• Lauren Butterly, PhD Candidate, UNSW Law
• Phil Cadman, Australian Legal Practitioner
• Amy Cahill, Law Graduate
• Scott Calnan, Lawyer
• Garth Campbell, Barrister
• Nick Carey, Law Student
• Christina Carney
• Dr Judy Cashmore AO FAcSS, Professor of Socio-Legal Research and Policy
• Anthony Cassimatis, Professor, University of Queensland Law School
• Sonia Caton, Lawyer
• Jason Chin, Law Lecturer
• Christopher Chiam
• Francesca Ciantar, Solicitor
• Jidah Clark, Solicitor
• Lisa Coates, Lecturer in Law
• David A Cole, Environmental Lawyer
• Klaire Coles, Solicitor
• Mrs Phoebe Collins
• Dr Emma Colvin, Lecturer, Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University
• Jade Connor, Solicitor
• Dr Tim Connor, Senior Lecturer, Newcastle Law School
• Lainey Cook, Pre-graduate Lawyer
• Darren Cooke, B.Eng, Student RMIT JD
• Associate Professor Anna Copeland, Director of Clinical Legal Programs, Murdoch University
• Professor Annie Cossins, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales
• Dr Karen Crawley, Senior Lecturer, Griffith Law School
• Dr Liz Curran, Associate Professor, School of Legal Practice, ANU College of Law
• Karen Cutler, Attorney
• Jess Dale, Solicitor
• Zuong Dang
• Aby Darling
• Beth Davey, Law Student
• Margaret Davies, Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor, College of Business, Government, and Law, Flinders University
• Michael Daw, JD Student, University of Western Australia
• Alice de Jonge, Senior Lecturer, Monash Business School, Volunteer Migration Agent Refugee Legal
• Andrea de Smidt, Solicitor
• Thea Deakin-Greenwood, Solicitor & Victim Advocate
• Kishaya Delaney, Law Student, University of Newcastle
• Samantha Devaney, JD Student and Social Worker
• Professor Joachim Dietrich, Faculty of Law, Bond University
• Michael Doherty, Lawyer
• Veeverk Doolabh, Law Graduate
• Raquel Dos Santos, Solicitor
• Shar Doudman, Solicitor, Professional Conduct, NSW Bar Association
• Alison Drayton, Principal, Drayton Sher Lawyers
• Clair Duffy, Senior Teaching Fellow, Bond University
• Fiona Duade, Solicitor
• Gillian Duggin, Principal Lawyer and Executive Office, Environmental Defenders Office NT
• Peggy Dwyer, Barrister, Forbes Chambers
• Karen Dyhrberg, Lawyer
• Liam Elphick, Adjunct Research Fellow, University of Western Australia Law School
• David Eldridge
• Ourania Emmanouil, RMIT University
• Talia Epstein, Barrister
• David Evenden, Solicitor Advocate, Legal Aid NSW
• James Farrell, OAM, Associate Adjunct Professor, School of Law, University of New England
• Robert Fatchen, JD Student, RMIT University
• Anneka Ferguson, Senior Lecturer, ANU College of Law
• Aaron Finn, Solicitor
• Kate Fischer Doherty, Director, Melbourne Law School Clinics, University of Melbourne
• Fiona Fitzpatrick, Director, Clinical Legal Education Program, Griffith University
• Arlia Fleming, Principal Solicitor, Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre
• Dr Adam Fletcher, Lecturer, Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University
• Dr Anita Foerster, Senior Lecturer, Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash University
• Adjunct Professor Rob Fowler, University of South Australia
• Sarah Flynne, Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office, WA
• Max Fox, Law Student, QUT Law School
• Rebecca Frost, Supervising Solicitor Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre
• James Gabrielsson, Solicitor
• Elizabeth Gallagher, Solicitor
• Alexander Gallimore, Solicitor
• Alex Gardner, Professor School of Law, University of Western Australia
• Lauren Gasparini, MARQUE Lawyers
• Alison Gerard, Charles Sturt University, Centre for Law and Justice
• Helen Gibbon, Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales Law
• Wanita Gibbs, Western NSW Community Legal Centre
• Frances Gibson
• Giselle Ginnane, MARQUE Lawyers
• Kristyn Glanville, Solicitor
• Fiona Glenister, Law Graduate and Paralegal
• Dr Brendan Gogarty, Director of Clinical Practice, University of Tasmania, Barrister & Solicitor (Tas, HCA)
• Dr Beth Goldblatt, Associate Professor, University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law
• Emma Golledge, Solicitor
• Guy Goodwin-Gill, Professor, UNSW/Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law
• Dr Nicole Graham, Associate Professor, Sydney Law School, The University of Sydney
• Hayley Grainger, Solicitor
• Hayley Grant, Law Student, RMIT
• Kate Grudzinskas, Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office (Qld) Inc
• Shivika Gupta, Student, University of New South Wales
• Ellie Haas, Solicitor, knowmore Legal Service
• William Hade, Law Student, RMIT University
• Lucas Hafey, Lawyer
• Callum Hair, Solicitor, Legal Aid NSW
• Jamal Hakim, JD Student, RMIT
• Fia Hamid-Walker, Lawyer, Development and Humanitarian Practitioner
• Ruby Hamilton, Solicitor, Environmental Defender's Office WA
• Dr Emily Hammond, Sydney Law School
• Carly Hanson, Community Legal Centres Queensland
• Colin Hardie, Principal, Just Us Lawyers
• Syvannah Harper, Lawyer, Maurice Blackburn
• Corey Harrison, Solicitor
• Judy Harrison, Senior Lecturer, ANU College of Law
• Jillian Heeley, Barrister and Solicitor
• Louisa Henderson
• Jade Henshaw, Lawyer, Victoria Legal Aid
• Isabel Hertaeg, Law Student, RMIT University
• Susan Higginson, Solicitor
• Miss Emily Hocking, JD Student, RMIT University
• Ursula Hogben, NSW Solicitor and Notary Public
• Eleanor Holden, Solicitor
• Mark Holden, Solicitor
• Vivien Holmes, Associate Professor, ANU College of Law
• Dr Anthony Hopkins, Senior Lecturer and Barrister, Director - Law School Clinical and Internship Course, ANU Law School
• Fleur Hopkins, Solicitor
• Paula Hughes, Solicitor
• Carla Hulls, JD Student, RMIT
• Dr Fran Humphries, Senior Research Fellow and Research Program Leader (Law & Nature), Law Futures Centre, Griffith University
• Hilary Hunt, RMIT JD Student
• Jonathon Hunyor, CEO Public Interest Advocacy Centre
• Ms Gina Hutchin
• Megan Inglis, Solicitor
• Katrina Ironside, Solicitor
• Christina Jackson, Solicitor
• Aurélie Jacquet
• Dr Aline Jaeckel, Law Lecturer, University of New South Wales
• Sarra Jamieson, JD Student, University of Western Australia
• Cameron Jang, Solicitor
• Meryem Jefferies, Law Graduate, Bachelor of Laws, Charles Sturt University
• Laura Johns, Solicitor
• Elaine Johnson, Principal Solicitor, Environmental Defender's Office NSW
• Hope Johnson, Lecturer, QUT
• Eva Johnston, RMIT Law Student
• Dr Anne Kallis, Juris Doctor Program Director, Senior Lecturer, Law, RMIT, Graduate School of Business and Law
• Annegret Kämpf, RMIT University
• Steneth Kaniki, Solomon Islands Environmental Law Association
• Illy Kaplan, Law Graduate
• Aaranie Karthikeyan, Solicitor
• Sam Keely, JD student, RMIT University
• Nicole Kennedy, Tenancy Coordinator/Solicitor, Redfern Legal Centre
• David Kelly, Lawyer, Tartan Red Governance & Advisory
• Olivia Kilponen, UTS Law Graduate
• Jonathan Kolieb, Senior Lecturer in Law, RMIT University
• Rachel Kong, MARQUE Lawyers
• Edvina Kuburas, RMIT Law Student
• Andrew Kwan, Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office (Qld)
• Rose Lamont, LLB Hons.
• Associate Professor Kay Lauchland, Law Faculty, Bond University
• Cameron Lavery, Solicitor
• Rob Leonard, Solicitor, PwC
• Asia Lenard, Solicitor
• Rebekah Leong, Solicitor
• Anthony Levin, Lawyer
• Dr Michelle Lim, Adelaide Law School
• Miss Lisa Liu, Law Student
• Sarah Loewy, Lawyer
• Emily Long, Solicitor
• Rani Lyons
• Professor Rosemary Lyster, Professor of Climate and Environmental Law, University of Sydney Law School
• Edwina MacDonald, Solicitor
• Jessie MacGillivray, Solicitor
• Joanne Mackay
• Tim Macknay, Principal Solicitor, Environmental Defender’s Office WA
• Claudia Maclean, Principal Solicitor, Women's Legal Centre ACT
• Eliza Maddock, JD Student, RMIT University
• Amy Maguire, Associate Professor of international law and human rights, Newcastle Law School
• Laura Mandeville, Lawyer
• Freya Manning, Teacher
• Dr Michelle Maloney
• Rebecca March, Lawyer and Academic, La Trobe University
• Duncan Marckwald, Barrister
• Leah Marrone, Lawyer
• Jessica Marsh, Solicitor
• Eugenio Vergara Marshall, Lawyer
• Hannah Marshall, MARQUE Lawyers Pty Ltd
• Emilia Martin, JD Student, RMIT
• Elaine Mason
• Dr Kate Mathews-Hunt, Honory Adjunct Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Bond University, Senior Counsel, Mathews Hunt Legal
• Katherine Matyja, Lawyer
• Shannon May, Marketing and External Engagement, Faculty of Law, Bond University
• Kate McCallum, Solicitor
• Dr Phillipa McCormack, Lecturer in Law, University of Tasmania
• Millicent McCreath, PhD Candidate UNSW Law
• Emma McDonald, Solicitor
• Professor Jan McDonald, Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania
• Haley McEwen, Solicitor, MNCCLC and Lecturer, Charles Sturt University Centre for Law & Justice
• Dr Nicola McGarrity, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales
• Dr Chris McGrath, Barrister
• Fiona McIntyre, Sessional Law Lecturer, RMIT University
• Juliette McIntyre, Lecturer, School of Law, University of South Australia
• Dr Carolyn McKay, Lecturer in Law, University of Sydney Law School
• Sonya McKay, Law Graduate
• Helen Metzger, JD Student, RMIT University
• Kim Middleton, MARQUE Lawyers
• Steven Miles, Academic, Charles Sturt University
• Todd Milham, JD Student
• Bill Mitchell, Solicitor
• Dr Tanya Mitchell, Senior Lecturer, The University of Sydney Law School
• Sarah Mogharrebin, Lawyer
• Jayashree Mohan, Juris Doctor Law Program, RMIT University
• John Moratelli, Solicitor
• Professor Bronwen Morgan, Faculty of Law, UNSW Sydney
• David Morris, Chief Executive Officer - Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office
• Ellie Mosley, RMIT JD student
• Dr Sarah Moulds, Lecturer, School of Law, University of South Australia
• Kath Naish, Solicitor
• Melinda Nash
• Maria Nawaz, Lecturer, UNSW Human Rights Clinic
• Dr Bronwyn Neill, PhD
• Maria Nicolae, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Bond University
• Peter Martin, Solicitor/Director, Matthews Williams
• Professor Mary Anne Noone, School of Law, La Trobe University
• Cathryn Nolan, Solicitor, Nolan Legal
• Brynn O'Brien, Executive Director, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility
• Kerry O’Brien, Solicitor
• Danielle O’Connor, Solicitor
• Dr Erin O’Donnell, Academic Fellow, Melbourne Law School
• Clare O'Meara, Law Student, RMIT University, Legal Assistant, Victoria Legal Aid
• Zak O'Neil, JD Student, University of Western Australia
• Anne O'Rourke, Lawyer
• Melanie O'Sullivan, Solicitor
• Andrew Olsen, Retired Solicitor
• Dr Alice Orchiston, University of New South Wales Law
• Graeme Orr, Professor, University of Queensland Law School
• Miriam Owato, Law Graduate
• Nalika Padmasena, Solicitor NSW
• Trent Pakarinen-Stephens, Law Student
• Dr Emma Palmer
• Sirisha Pinnali
• Stephanie Payne, JD Student, RMIT University
• Dr Alison Pert, University of Sydney
• Emma Phillips, Senior Lawyer, Queensland Advocacy Incorporated
• Cassandra Pickering, LLB (Hons)
• Revel Pointon, Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office (Qld)
• Emma Pollett-Sutton, Solicitor
• Andrew Pyke, Senior Consultant, Andrew Pyke Consulting
• Rosie Rand, JD Student, UNSW
• Oliver Ray, Graduate
• Roba Rayan, President, Muslim Legal Network Queensland
• Belinda Rayment, Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office
• Janelle Rees, Legal Academic & Small Business Owner
• Isabelle Reinecke, Executive Director and Solicitor, Grata Fund
• Irena Reiss, Lawyer
• Brigitte Rheinberger, Solicitor
• Mark Riboldi, Advocacy & Communications Manager, Community Legal Centres NSW
• Dr Marco Rizzo, Senior Lecturer, UWA Law School
• Amelia Rochford, Law Graduate
• Dr Nicole Rogers, School of Law and Justice, Southern Cross University
• Ashley Margaret Rooney, Solicitor
• Alison Rose, Solicitor EDO Qld
• Natasha Rose, Australian Pro Bono Centre
• Professor Kim Rubenstein
• Emma Louise Russack, Student, RMIT University
• Suzanne Russell Parker, Solicitor
• Emily Rutherford, Solicitor
• Alana Ryan, Law Student, Deakin University
• Emma Ryan, Senior Lawyer, Justice Connect
• Jane Sanders, Solicitor
• Naim Santoso-Miller, Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland
• Catherine Sarre, Solicitor
• Rick Sarre, Dean of Law, University of South Australia
• Miss Isabella Satz
• Diana Sayad, International Human Rights Lawyer
• Daphne Schilizzi, Lawyer
• Alicia Schubert, Solicitor & ILP Director, Schubert Law Pty Ltd
• Melanie Schwartz, Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales Law
• Dr Vicki Sentas, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales
• Erina Shahriyar, Student, Monash University
• Kate Shaw
• Matt Sheedy
• Joanna Shulman, CEO, Redfern Legal Centre
• Jenny Siackhasone, Solicitor
• Nicola Silbert, Lawyer
• Dr Natalie Silver, Lecturer, University of Sydney, Faculty of Law
• Brittany Smeed, Solicitor
• Monika Smith, Legal Counsel
• Paul Smyth, Solicitor
• Nicole Sommer, CEO & Principal Lawyer, EDO Tasmania
• Carly Stebbing, Founder and Principal, Resolution 123
• Loretta Stellino, Solicitor
• Professor Tim Stephens, Professor of International Law and ARC Future Fellow, University of Sydney Law School
• Scarlett Stevens, Law Student, Queensland University of Technology
• Lindsey Stevenson-Graf, Senior Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Law, Bond University
• Penny Sullivan, Community Legal Centres Queensland
• Charlotte Sutcliffe, Solicitor
• Professor Carolyn Sutherland, Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash University
• Professor Dan Jerker B. Svantesson, Faculty of Law, Bond University
• Jacquie Svenson, Solicitor/Clinical Teacher, University of Newcastle Legal Centre
• Brendan Sydes, CEO and Lawyer, Environmental Justice Australia
• Lida Szabunia
• Evelyn Tadros, Barrister
• Karen Taranto, JD Student
• Stella Tarrant, Associate Professor, Law School, University of Western Australia
• Pamela Taylor-Barnett, Lecturer, ANU College of Law
• Bronwyn Tegousis
• Amritha Thiyagarajan, Senior Lawyer, LegalVision
• Sian Thomas, Legal Director, Sian Thomas Lawyers
• Sibila Thompson, Law Graduate
• Jane Titterington, Principal Solicitor, Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre
• Cyndi Tomlinson, Teaching Associate, Law Faculty, Monash University
• Miss Ariel Tonkies
• Dan Toohey, Solicitor, University of Newcastle
• Laura Toose, Solicitor, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
• Jessica Townsend, Law Graduate
• Linda Tucker, Solicitor/CLSD Coordinator, Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre Inc.
• Ben Tuckett, Solicitor
• Mitali Tyagi
• Andrea van der Kuijlen, Solicitor
• Michaela Vaughan, Solicitor
• Rochelle Vincent, Dispute Resolution Centre Coordinator, Faculty of Law, Bond University
• Daisy von Schoenberg, MARQUE Lawyers
• Monica Taylor, Director, University of Queensland Pro Bono Centre
• Simone Thackray, Lecturer, Charles Sturt University
• Ms Katrina Jean Thomas
• Virginia Trescowthick, Solicitor
• Dr Ben Wardle, Lecturer in Law, USC
• Nella Watson-Lowe, Legal Practitioner
• Danielle Watts, RMIT JD Student
• Dr Alex Wawryk, Law School, University of Adelaide
• Professor Kimberlee Weatherall, University of Sydney Law School
• Jackson Walkden-Brown, Associate Professor, Bond University Faculty of Law
• Kirstiana Ward, Principal Solicitor Environmental Defenders Office NQ
• Deanne Weir, Chairperson, Grata Fund
• David Weisbrot, Emeritus Professor of Law
• Professor Penelope Weller, Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University
• Joseph Wenta, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania
• Ms Julia White
• Dr Steven White, Senior Lecturer, Griffith Law School
• Alex Whitney, Solicitor
• Agata Wierzbowski, Solicitor
• Trina Williams, Managing Lawyer, Brisbane, knowmore Legal Services
• Nicholas Witherow, Lawyer
• Benedict Wong, Law Graduate
• Katie Wood, Legal Counsel
• Dr Tamara Wood, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania
• Dr John Woodward, Associate Lecturer, School of Law, University of Newcastle
• Skye Worth, Solicitor
• Dr Michelle Worthington, Lecturer, ANU College of Law
• Katie Wrigley, Senior Solicitor, Legal Aid NSW
• David Yang, Solicitor
• Kudjala Yarraman, Jagera Descendant
• Carla Yazmadjian, former ALSWA lawyer
• Grace Young, Law Student, Queensland University of Technology
• Harley Young, Lawyer
• Amelia Zaer, Law Student, Queensland University of Technology
• Nadja Zimmermann, Solicitor

Background

The cost of the climate crisis is significant and includes infrastructure loss, storm damage, ocean acidification, climate refugees, drought, fires, floods, melting glaciers, famine, species extinctions, water scarcity, infectious disease, sea level rises, political instability and loss of our way of life. In its 2018 Annual Global Risks Report, the World Economic Forum ranked extreme weather, natural disasters, and failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change among the top 10 global risks that countries could face in 2018.[1] In the absence of effective action to reduce emissions, global warming is likely to reach between 3.7 °C and 4.8 °C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.[2]
 
The Australian Government’s own projections show that Australia is not on track to reach our national emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement of 26-28% by 2030 (below 2005 levels). In order to meet our current emissions target, Australia will need policies to reduce emissions by an extra 695 – 762 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution between 2021-2030.[3] These policies must include a transition to 100 percent renewable energy generation and exports by 2030 and just transitions and job creation for fossil fuel-based industries.

Climate change is increasingly infiltrating daily legal practice, given the plethora of ways in which the climate crisis manifests as legal, financial and reputational issues for our clients.[4] Lawyers therefore, have a unique and tangible role to play in “instigating and shaping tipping points for business change”[5] through client counselling and holistic legal advice on the consequences, costs and uncertainties associated with different courses of action.[6]

Climate change is also a human rights issue with justice implications and impacts.[7] In its 2016 State of the Environment Overview, the Australian Department of Environment and Energy acknowledged that “people who are socially and economically disadvantaged are the most sensitive to climate change”.[8] Vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected by climate change and have less ability to adapt or recover from it. The responsibility of lawyers to enhance access to justice for people who would not otherwise have access to legal assistance and to work for the public good is well entrenched in our profession. The responsibility of lawyers to be aware of and act on climate change issues in their daily legal practice is a natural extension of this.

References

[1] Holly Ellyatt, “World entering ‘critical period of intensified risks’ in 2018, WEF says,” CNBC, January 18, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/17/world-entering-critical-period-of-intensified-risks-in-2018-wef-says.html
[2] IPCC Climate Change Synthesis Report: Summary for Policy Makers, 2014, p. 20. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3gkg1oG_5iozuePiKxZmCIQ4camQDQN6_kL4teQVZ7LZVRcb1mKSHfQx4.
[3] Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy, Australia’s emissions projections 2018, December 2018 http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/128ae060-ac07-4874-857e-dced2ca22347/files/australias-emissions-projections-2018.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3Am7LzUfXt3NPOdsf_mZ8F-SJE94DqBkAWboVjY4fraQXMNaPApCPMrj0
[4] Advocates for International Development: Lawyers Eradicating Poverty, What Lawyers Can Do About Climate Change, The Dickson Pool School of Law, Kings College, London, November 2, 2016. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/law/research/centres/climate-law-and-governance/docs/what-lawyers-can-do-about-climate-change-briefing-paper.pdf.
[5] Advocates for International Development: Lawyers Eradicating Poverty, Ibid.
[6] The Hon Justice Brian J Preston SC, Chief Judge, Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, Australia. Implementing a climate conscious approach in daily legal practice, Australian & New Zealand Legal Ethics Colloquium Fifth Bi-Annual Meeting: Sustainable Legal Ethics, Public Symposium ‘Should Lawyers Challenge Emitters?’, December 4, 2015, Monash University Law Chambers, Melbourne. http://www.lec.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/Speeches%20and%20Papers/PrestonCJ/PrestonCJ%20Implementing%20a%20climate%20conscious%20approach%20in%20daily%20legal%20practice.pdf
[7] The Hon Justice Brian J Preston SC, Chief Judge, Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, Australia, Ibid
[8] Australian State of the Environment Overview, 2016, Department of Environment and Energy. https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/overview/headlines.
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