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Climate change poses enormous challenges for Australia and the international community. The level of warming already in the climate system means that law and policymakers must deal with dual policy imperatives – to manage the now-unavoidable impacts of climate change, whilst also avoiding the unmanageable impacts of further warming.  This unit examines responses to these imperatives of climate change mitigation and adaptation at the international, national and local levels. It introduces students to the science of climate change and the environmental, social and economic consequences that are projected to occur, as well as the various strategies, practices and technologies aimed at reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. It then examines the international architecture for addressing climate change, including the formal legal framework and the political, economic and ethical implications of the mitigation commitments being negotiated to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. The strategies for achieving national emissions reductions are then explored, including Australia's mandatory renewable energy target, the carbon farming initiative, the emissions trading/carbon tax regime, and the current Direct Action Plan. Consideration of the role of law in promoting adaptation to the impacts of climate change at the household, local, regional, national and international scales complete this unit.

Summary 2020

Unit name Climate Change Law and Policy
Unit code LAW656
Credit points 12.5
Faculty/School College of Arts, Law and Education
Faculty of Law
Discipline Law

Prof. Jan McDonald

Teaching staff

Dr Peter Lawrence, Prof. Jan McDonald and Prof. Benjamin Richardson

Level Advanced
Available as student elective? Yes
Breadth Unit? No



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About Census Dates



Completion of 150 points units of university study (ie. 12 x 12.5pt units)


Teaching Pattern

This unit will be offered in combined online/face-to-face mode.


2 in-class tests
End of unit take-home exam or research paper

TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



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