Dr Lawrence poses the question: what ethical obligations are on the current generation to take action on climate change and how do we balance those obligations to mitigate emissions with regard to future generations?
Where ethics, justice and climate change meet
Where ethics, justice and climate change meet
He says that from the current UN global negotiations for a climate treaty, it's clear you won't get international agreement unless there's firstly a rough agreement on what's a fair thing.
'Fairness is abstract on one level, but practical on another in the sense that you have to find ways of reaching agreement between countries.
'I've recently shifted my focus to 'how do you represent the interests of future generations in an institutional way, on an international basis?'
'I've given a presentation and written a paper, which is in the process of being published, looking at the current proposal for a UN Commissioner for Future Generations,' Dr Lawrence said.
'If democracy rests on the theory that anybody affected by decisions should have a say in those decisions, how on earth do you apply that to future generations? They can't directly express a voice, so they can only do it through some sort of proxy.'
At national and international levels there are various institutions purporting to represent the interests of future generations such as Commissioners for Sustainable Development or parliamentary Committees for Future Generations, which Finland has, for example.
'We have International Human Rights institutions which remind governments of their obligations and there are good arguments for comparable institutions representing future generations because their interests are neglected. Policy-making on climate change is an example of that,' said Dr Lawrence.
Dr Lawrence comes out of a career diplomat background, but says he is now more interested in the theory in areas where we need to try to forge a common understanding on what's a fair deal.
'My research keeps an eye on the practical and theoretical. In part, my recent book tries to understand why the international climate regime is so weak. If you can understand that, it helps in making reform proposals that stand some chance of being politically feasible. Some academic work can be too detached from reality,' he says.
With the rapid increase in renewables around the world, Dr Lawrence says we're seeing a 'whole new set of corporate interests that are keen to see a ramping up of action on climate change'. He added that 'While Australia is lagging behind globally, the renewable sector will develop more political muscle and you'll see the change. Even during the last six months there have been positive signs.'
One of the key signals has been the G7 flagging the objective of decarbonizing the global economy by the end of the century. This is a really dramatic shift. Large superannuation funds like the huge Norwegian Government Pension Fund have decided to divest from fossil fuel investment and this has already sent shockwaves through global superannuation industry.
'The European Science Foundation had a final conference last year and their programmes for 'Human Rights to a Green Future' were coordinated out of the Ethics Institute at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
'I've given papers at their conferences, one of which is to be published in a book this year. Their conferences have brought together a whole range of terrific experts and from that there is now a global network on Facebook on climate justice. A lot of top people are participating,' said Dr Lawrence.
'I'm going on study leave next year to Utrecht as a visiting fellow, and this will be a terrific chance to follow through on some related work I've done.
'We're lucky at the University of Tasmania. We have access to some of the world's top climate scientists who work here.
'I've found that being close to world experts on climate change has been a great teaching resource to tap into. A colleague is running a climate law unit and I taught a component on climate justice and ran a treaty simulation where students try and negotiate a global climate agreement in a couple of hours! They got at least some feeling for just how difficult it is to negotiate a treaty, and they learned some basic negotiation skills,' Dr Lawrence said.
Dr Peter Lawrence is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) Law School where he teaches international law and supervises the University of Tasmania Law Review. Peter is interested in the interface between ethics, justice, climate change and international law. His interests include not just substantive justice but also procedural justice and the question of how institutions which purport to represent future generations can be justified in terms of legitimacy. Please see Peter's latest publication Rebecca Byrnes and Peter Lawrence, 'Can 'Soft Law' Solve 'Hard Problems'? Justice, Legal Form and the Durban-Mandated Climate Negotiations' (2015) 34(1) University of Tasmania Law Journal 34-67
|Degree||Title of Thesis||University||Country||Awarded|
|PhD||University of Tilburg||The Netherlands||2013|
|LLM||London School of Economics and Political Science||United Kingdom||1988|
|LLB||University of New South Wales||Australia||1984|
|BA (Hons)||History||University of New South Wales||Australia||1981|
Prior to joining UTAS, Peter worked for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1989-2004) Canberra which included working as the First Secretary for the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva (1996-1999). This included leading Australian delegations negotiating environment agreements and chairing a contact group which produced the first rolling text of the optional protocol to the UN Convention against torture. In 2011 Peter was a visiting fellow at ANU Centre for Public and International Law. In 2013 Peter successfully defended his PhD at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands. He published Justice for Future Generations, Climate Change and International Law (Edward Elgar Press, 2014). Peter has been an active member of the European Science foundation network on Human Rights to a Green future coordinated by the University of Utrecht Ethics Institute. Peter will be a visiting fellow at this Institute October-December 2016.
Peter's research relates to the UTAS theme of Environment, Resources and Sustainability.
International law, international environmental law, Jessup moot, law review, climate Law, current issues in environmental law.
Peter's teaching expertise centres around international law and international environmental law. He has used a treaty simulation exercise as an integral element of teaching international environmental law over the years, and also use this exercise in teaching climate justice -related issues in other units such as climate Law and current issues of environmental Law.
Teaching and coordination role:
Climate justice and ethics (particularly intergenerational justice - eg what ethical obligations do we owe future generations in relation to climate change and how should these ethical obligations be reflected in international law obligations and institutions?
International environmental law - including issues relating to effectiveness and legitimacy of global treaties addressing environmental issues.
Building global institutions which represent the interests of future generations (e.g. proposed UN commissioner for future generations).
- Environmental and Natural Resources Law (180111)
- International Law (excl. International Trade Law) (180116)
- Law (180199)
- Human Rights Law (180114)
- Access to Justice (180102)
- Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) (210303)
- Environmental Impact Assessment (050204)
- Law and Legal Studies (189999)
- Human Rights and Justice Issues (220104)
- Environmental Philosophy (220303)
- Architectural Science and Technology (incl. Acoustics, Lighting, Structure and Ecologically Sustainable Design) (120104)
- Environment and Resource Economics (140205)
- Legal Theory, Jurisprudence and Legal Interpretation (180122)
- Justice and the Law (940499)
- Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies (970118)
- Environmental Services (940110)
- Climate Change Mitigation Strategies (960302)
- Law Reform (940405)
- Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society (970116)
- Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic Environments (excl. Social Impacts) (960306)
- Civil Justice (940401)
- Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards (960799)
- Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability (960311)
- Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) (960307)
Journal Article(12 outputs)
|2015||Byrnes R, Lawrence P, 'Can 'Soft Law' Solve 'Hard Problems'? Justice, Legal Form and the Durban-Mandated Climate Negotiations', University of Tasmania Law Review, 34, (1) pp. 34-67. ISSN 0082-2108 (2015) [Refereed Article]|
Co-authors: Byrnes R
|2015||Gogarty B, Lawrence P, 'The ICJ Whaling Case Science, transparency and the rule of law', Journal of Law and Information Science, 23, (2) pp. 134-160. ISSN 0729-1485 (2015) [Refereed Article]|
Co-authors: Gogarty B
|2014||Lawrence PM, 'Justice for future generations', Nederlands Juristenblad, 88 pp. online. (2014) [Professional, Non Refereed Article]|
|2009||Lawrence P, 'Australian climate policy and the Asia Pacific partnership on clean development and climate (APP). From Howard to Rudd: continuity or change?', International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 9, (3) pp. 281-299. ISSN 1573-1553 (2009) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 15Web of Science - 10
|2008||Lawrence PM, 'APEC Promises a Roar and Delivers a Whimper: The Sydney Declaration on Climate and Energy', Asia Pacific Journal of Environmental Law, 11, (1 & 2) pp. 29-50. ISSN 1385-2140 (2008) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 2
|2007||Lawrence PM, 'The Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6): A Distraction to the Kyoto Process or a Viable Alternative?', Asia Pacific Journal of Environmental Law, 10, (3&4) pp. 183-210. ISSN 1385-2140 (2007) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 13
|1998||Lawrence PM, 'Negotiation of a protocol on liability and compensation for damage resulting from transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal', Review of European Community & International Environmental Law, 7, (3) pp. 249-255. ISSN 0962-8797 (1998) [Refereed Article]|
|1998||Lawrence PM, Van Hoogstraten D, 'Protecting the South Pacific from Hazardous and Nuclear wastes dumping: the Waigani Convention'', Review of European Community & International Environmental Law (RECIEL), 7, (3) pp. 268-273. ISSN 0952-8873 (1998) [Refereed Article]|
|1994||Lawrence PM, 'Regional Strategies for the Implementation of Environmental Conventions: Lessons from the South Pacific?', Australian Yearbook of International Law, 15 pp. 203-229. ISSN 0084-7658 (1994) [Non Refereed Article]|
|1992||Lawrence PM, 'Recent Amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer: Establishment of a Fund to Facilitate Technology Transfer', Journal of Environmental Law, 4, (1) pp. 15-27. ISSN 0952-8873 (1992) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 1
|1992||Lawrence PM, 'Australian accession brings hazardous wastes convention into force', Australian Environmental Law News, (June) pp. 25-26. ISSN 1445-405X (1992) [Refereed Article]|
|1990||Lawrence PM, 'International Legal Regulation for Protection of the Ozone Layer: Some problems of implementation', Journal of Environmental Law, 2, (1) pp. 17-52. ISSN 0952-8873 (1990) [Refereed Article]|
|2014||Lawrence PM, 'Justice For Future Generations: Climate Change and International Law', Edward Elgar Publishing, United Kingdom, pp. 256. ISBN 9780857934154 (2014) [Authored Research Book]|
|1983||Lawrence PM, 'Australian Opinion on the Indo-Chinese-Refugee Influx 1975-79', Griffith University Press, Brisbane, pp. 100. (1983) [Authored Other Book]|
Chapter in Book(6 outputs)
|2016||Lawrence P, 'An atmospheric trust to protect the environment for future generations? Reforming global human rights law', Human Rights and Sustainability, Routledge, Bos, G and Duwell, M (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 25-39. ISBN 9781138957107 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2016||Lawrence PM, 'An atmospheric trust to protect the environment for future generations? Reforming global human rights law', Human Rights and Sustainability, Routledge, Bos G and Duwell M (ed), United Kingdom ISBN 9781138957107 (In Press) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2016||Lawrence PM, 'Justice and choice of legal instrument under the Durban mandate: Ideal and not so ideal legal form', Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World, Oxford University Press, Roser D and Heyward C (ed), United Kingdom (In Press) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2012||Lawrence P, 'Justice for future generations: environment discourses, international law and climate change', Environmental Discourses in Public and International Law, Cambridge University Press, B Jessup and K Rubenstein (ed), Cambridge, pp. 23-46. ISBN 978-1-107-01942-3 (2012) [Research Book Chapter]|
|1997||Lawrence PM, Behrens JM, Reicher H, 'the environment', Cases and Materials on International Law in Australia, Butterworths, H. Reicher (ed), United Kingdom (1997) [Research Book Chapter]|
|1993||Lawrence PM, 'Why Lithuania? A Case Study of Active and Passive Collaboration in Mass Murder in a Lithuanian Village 1941', Why Germany? National Socialism and Anti-Semitism in the European Context, Berg Press, J. Milfull (ed), United Kingdom (1993) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2014||Lawrence PM, 'Australian Climate Law in Global Context, by Alexander Zahar, Jacqueline Peel and Lee Godden', Carbon and Climate Law Review, 3 pp. 229-231. ISSN 1864-9904 (2014) [Review Single Work]|
Conference Publication(18 outputs)
|2014||Gogarty B, Lawrence PM, 'Conceptions and (mis)conceptions of science before international tribunals: ICJ Australia/Japan whaling case in context', 7th Polar Law Symposium, 28-31 October, IMAS, University of Tasmania, pp. 1-5. (2014) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
Co-authors: Gogarty B
|2014||Lawrence PM, 'Justice and choice of legal instrument under the Durban mandate: Ideal and not so ideal legal form' paper presented at Workshop', Climate Justice and Non-ideal Theory', University of Oxford, Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations, 14th -15th January, Hobart (2014) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2014||Lawrence PM, 'A transgenerational demos'? Climate treaty-making reform and procedural justice', The Oxford Martin Programme Conference How can institutional mechanism safeguard for tomorrow, today?', 21 October, Oxford University, (2014) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2014||Lawrence PM, 'Trade and Environment: Tasks for the Negotiators of Future Inter presentation national Environmental Treaties', Proceedings of the 1991 International Law Weekend, Australian National University Centre for International and Public Law, 10-12 May, Canberra (2014) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2013||Lawrence PM, 'An atmospheric trust? International human rights law and the protection of the environment for future generations', Human Rights and Responsibilities regarding Future Generations, 14-16th October, The Netherlands (2013) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2011||Lawrence PM, 'Human Rights, Future Generations and Climate Change', Smith Centre for Enterprise and the Environment, 26th May, University of Oxford (2011) [Keynote Presentation]|
|2011||Lawrence PM, 'Human Rights, Future Generations and Climate Change: new synergy or costly distraction', Designing just institutions for global climate governance, Australian National University (ANU),, 30th June, Canberra (2011) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2011||Lawrence PM, 'Human Rights, Future Generations and Climate Change: Promise and Limits', Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law (ANZSIL) Conference, 24th June, Canberra (2011) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2011||Lawrence PM, 'What do we owe the future? Climate change and Future Generations', Wilhelm-Merton-Centre for European Law and International Law, 11th May, Goethe University of Frankfurt (2011) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2009||Lawrence PM, 'Intergenerational Equity, Environment Discourses and International Law: Time for Fresh Approaches', Australian National University (ANU) Centre for International and Public Law (CIPL), and the Australian Centre for Environmental Law (ACEL), 13-15th August, Canberra (2009) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2009||Lawrence PM, 'Climate change: Law and Governance- issues for Tasmania', University of Tasmania (UTAS), Climate Change and Rural Tasmania, Forum, 5th June, Hobart (2009) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2008||Lawrence PM, 'Generations X-Z: Reconfiguring International Law to Meet the Climate Change Challenge', London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) seminar program on public policy and philosophy, October, London (2008) [Keynote Presentation]|
|2006||Lawrence PM, 'The Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6): a distraction to the Kyoto process or viable alternative?', Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law (ANZSIL), 29th June, Wellington, New Zealand (2006) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2004||Lawrence PM, 'Farmers' Rights in International Law - Sparse Pickings?', Intellectual Property and Farmers Rights', Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA), 12th November, Canberra (2004) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|1992||Lawrence PM, 'The Negotiation of Multilateral Treaties: Structure, Process and Product', Annual Australian Law Students Association Conference, 9th July, Canberra (1992) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|1992||Lawrence PM, 'Implementation of the Climate Change Convention in the Pacific', Strengthening Environmental Legislation in the South Pacific Region, 23-27 November, Western Samoa (1992) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|1992||Lawrence PM, 'Implementation of Environmental Conventions in the South Pacific: 'An Australian Perspective'', Australian Centre for Environmental Law, Apia, 23-27 November, Western Samoa (1992) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|1991||Lawrence PM, 'Recent Amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer: Establishment of a Fund to Facilitate Technology Transfer'', Our Common Future. Environmental Law and Policy Workshop, May 5th, Sydney (1991) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|1991||Lawrence PM, 'East Timor', Encyclopaedia of Public International Law,, R. Bernhardt (ed), United States (1991) [Entry]|
|1991||Lawrence PM, 'Mekong River'', Encyclopaedia of Public International Law,, R. Bernhardt (ed), United States (1991) [Entry]|
|1991||Lawrence PM, 'Torres Strait', Encyclopaedia of Public International Law,, R. Bernhardt (ed), United States (1991) [Entry]|
Other Public Output(6 outputs)
|2015||Lawrence PM, 'Beyond Paris: Future Generations and Climate Justice', Elgar Blog, Edward Elgar Publishing BLOG, Australia, 22 Sept (2015) [Magazine Article]|
|2014||Lawrence PM, 'An atmospheric trust to protect the evironment for future generations? Reforming global human rights law', Future Justice, online (2014) [Magazine Article]|
|2013||Lawrence PM, 'Wereldijd Klimaatverdrag Bliift hard nodig ('Global Climate Treaty Urgently Needed)', Het Financieele Dagblad (Daily Financial News), Netherlands, 2nd Dec, p. 11. (2013) [Newspaper Article]|
|2007||Atkins KM, Coady DA, Crowley CM, Gale F, Henning T, et al., 'Academics lash Lennon 'ethics'', The Mercury, Davies Brothers (News Limited), Hobart, March 24 (2007) [Newspaper Article]|
Co-authors: Atkins KM; Coady DA; Crowley CM; Gale F; Henning T; Lockwood M; Malpas J; Snell RD; Stamm M; Stokes MD; Stratford E; Warner CA; White RD
|1991||Lawrence PM, 'Treaty and MOU Guide (TAMOUG)', Australian International Development Assistance Bureau, Australian International Development Assistance Bureau, 1 (1991) [Report of Restricted Access]|
|1991||Lawrence PM, 'Montevideo program sets environmental law agenda', Environment: Australia's International Agenda, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade quarterly, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia, 2 (1991) [Magazine Article]|
Grants & Funding
Number of grants
- Universities Australia / Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service) ($10,398)
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Lawrence PM
- 2016 - 2017
- University of Tasmania ($625)
- Grant-Conference Support Scheme
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Lawrence PM
- University of Tasmania ($19,990)
- Grant-Cross Theme
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Hovenden MJ; Crowley CM; Nolan G; McNeil DL; Forbes LK; Hallegraeff GM; Lawrence PM; Wadsley AGW
|PhD||Legal Recognition of the Human Right to a Healthy Environment as a Tool for Environmental Protection in Australia: Useful, redundant, or dangerous?||2011|
|PhD||The Role of the No-Harm Rule in Governing Solar Radiation Management Geoengineering||2015|
|Masters||The Argentine Cases: A Shadow on ICSID Arbitration?|
Candidate: Alice Ainslie Herbon
|Masters||A Critical Analysis of EC - Biotech: The Panel's Approach to Other Rules of International Law and the Application of the SPS Agreement|
Candidate: Bruce Newey