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 9 February 2020:

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
Darwin Community Legal Centre
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
Redfern Legal Centre
Townsville Community Legal Service Inc

Supporting individuals as at 9 February 2020:

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
Renee Bowker
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
Alexander Buck, Law Student
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
Julia Corr, Law Student
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
Callum Di Sario, Lawyer
Michael Doherty, Lawyer
Veeverk Doolabh, Law Graduate
Raquel Dos Santos, Solicitor
Shar Doudman, Solicitor, Professional Conduct, NSW Bar Association
Darin Draper, Solicitor
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
Carol Grimshaw, Principal, Grimshaw Legal
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
Vishal Karnamadakala, Law Student
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)
Meg Lamb
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
Sarah A McCarthy, Barrister, 5 Wentworth Chambers
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
Shannon O’Hara-Smith, Lawyer
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
Jessica Oyta Legal Director
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
Dr Nicola Ross, Senior Lecturer, Newcastle Law School
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
Will 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
Cybele Stockley, Solicitor
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
Cyndi Tomlinson, Teaching Associate, Monash Law
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
Evan Walker, Barrister
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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