Melbourne Law School
Room 317, Level 3
185 Pelham St
Carlton VIC 3053

In recent years cities have asserted themselves as relevant actors in the global climate change regime. International law practice and scholarship has so far only partly embraced this development. The self-asserting move of cities on the global level has been accompanied by a rhetoric according to which states would have failed to live up to their responsibilities with respect to the fight against climate change. Instead, cities would be well-positioned to fill this governance gap, in particular through global networks such as ICLEI and C40.

This talk will discuss how this narrative is affected by the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This was seen as a milestone for the global climate change regime. It is also evidence for a cautious embrace of the importance of cities and other subnational authorities in this field. Yet, new questions arise after the announcement of a US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. This has generated more attention than ever for what cities and other subnational authorities can do in this field. At the same time, the struggle between the US federal executive and US cities is emblematic for a wider debate on the future of the international (legal) order: how will the balance between states as central actors of the international system on the one hand and an increasingly assertive league of cities and subnational authorities be struck?

About the presenter

Helmut Philipp Aust is a Professor of Law at the Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Law. He has previously held teaching and research positions at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He was also a Visiting Fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge and a Visiting Scholar at Melbourne Law School. His research areas lie in the fields of public international law, EU law and German as well as comparative constitutional law. He is the author of "Complicity and the Law of State Responsibility" (CUP 2011) and "Das Recht der globalen Stadt" (Mohr Siebeck 2017) as well as co-editor of "The Interpretation of International Law by Domestic Courts" (OUP 2016).