Corporate Energy Transition


    Funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant (DP160100255) for 2016-2019, this project explores how corporate and securities law mechanisms can be used to incentivise private sector transition to clean energy sources and business practices. There is considerable scope for the private sector to contribute to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning energy systems to low-carbon, clean energy sources so as to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts on Australian businesses, communities and the environment. There is also increasing recognition by Australian companies across all sectors of the importance of managing risks associated with climate change. This project evaluates how existing corporate law tools (such as reporting and disclosure requirements, shareholder actions and director’s duties) can and are being used to motivate companies to adopt clean energy practices; and whether there are options for law and governance reforms to promote greater uptake.


Professor Jacqueline Peel
Melbourne Law School
Chief Investigator

Professor Hari Osofsky
Dean, Myra and James Bradwell Professor of Law, and Professor of Environmental Law and Culture, Northwestern University
Partner Investigator

Professor Brett McDonnell
University of Minnesota Law School
Partner Investigator

Dr Anita Foerster

Dr Anita Foerster was a Senior Research Associate at MLS on the project between 2016 - 2018. She is currently based in the Monash Business School as a Senior Lecturer

Project Outcomes

Fact Sheets

Final Report

2 September 2020

This is the final report for the project.


'Green Boardrooms'

This blog post from the project researchers published on the University of Oxford’s Business Law Blog outlines the key findings of the team’s journal article ‘Green Boardrooms’.


Shareholder activism on climate change

A new article by Prue Moodie published in In the Black magazine (1 April 2021), features Professor Jacqueline Peel and the Corporate Energy Transition report, looking at how shareholder activism on climate is exerting pressure on organisations to change.


A 25-year-old took on a $57 billion super fund over climate change and won. Experts see the case as evidence of 'which way the wind is blowing'

Professor Jacqueline Peel was quoted in the news article authored by Jack Derwin, published in The Business Insider, 25 November 2020

Green Boardrooms?

A journal article by Brett McDonnell, Hari M.Osofsky, Jacqueline Peel & Anita Foerster, in Connecticut Law Review, (2020).

'A wake-up call': why this student is suing the government over the financial risks of climate change

An article piece, authored by Jacqueline Peel and Rebekkah Markey-Towler, published in The Conversation, 27 July 2020


Professor Jacqueline Peel on legal challenges related to climate change

ABC News Article, published on 14 Feb 2020

Australia's devastating summer bushfires, and now flooding rains, fit with scientific predictions for how climate change might affect the weather.

For many in the community this extreme weather highlights the need for a political response, yet more and more people believe governments and companies aren't doing enough to combat the changing climate.

Can the courts provide a solution?


Professor Jacqueline Peel on The McVeigh v REST case

ABC News Article, published on 18 Jan 2020

How a 24-year-old Brisbane council worker got global pension funds talking about climate change
Mark McVeigh says climate change impacts are materialising and investors should be acting. In July, a landmark trial will take place in a Sydney courtroom that could potentially change the way superannuation funds invest Australians' almost $3 trillion in retirement savings. Key points: The McVeigh v REST case could set a precedent for the way global pension funds manage climate change. Experts warn litigation against listed companies relating to climate change will rise in Australia this year.


Professor Jacqueline Peel takes part in an expert panel on climate change risk.

Convened jointly by the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Law on 22 August 2019 at the Federal Court in Sydney.

Workshop on Trends in Climate Litigation: Public, Private and Global

Melbourne Law School, 22 July 2019.

Workshop Agenda Bios and Abstracts

Article: Energy Re-Investment

Hari M. Osofsky, Jacqueline Peel, Brett H. McDonnell, and Anita Foerster, (2019) 94(2) Indiana Law Journal


Article: Governing the Energy Transition: The Role of Corporate Law Tools

(2019) 36(5) Environmental and Planning Law Journal 


Presentation: Corporate Climate & Energy Governance - via disclosure and duties?

Presented by Dr Anita Foerster at the 5th International Symposium on Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development, UNE, Armidale, April 2019.

Presentation Slides

Presentation: Governing the Energy Transition: the Potential and Limitations of Corporate Law Tools

Presented by Prof. Jacqueline Peel at UNSW Workshop on Energy Transitions, Sydney, 5-6 February 2019

Presentation Slides

Presentation: Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation

Presented by Prof. Jacqueline Peel at Expert Panel on Super Funds, Climate and the Law, Melbourne, 22 August 2018

Presentation Slides

Presentation: Implementing the Paris Agreement: The Role of Business

Presented by Prof. Jacqueline Peel at Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law conference, Wellington, 5-7 July 2018

Presentation Slides

Presentation: Disclosing and Managing Physical Risks – a new driver for private sector adaptation?

NCCARF Climate Adaptation 2018, Melbourne, 7-10 May 2018.

Presentation Slides

Presentation: Corporate Climate Justice?

Imagining a Different Future – Overcoming Barriers to Climate Justice, Hobart, 9 February 2018.

Presentation Slides

Presentation: Liability for Misleading Disclosure

Presentation on Monday 27 Nov 2017, at the Australian-German Climate and Energy College.

Presentation Video

Presentation: Devising a Legal Blueprint for Corporate Energy Transition

Future of Environmental Law Symposium, Law Council of Australia, Sydney 10 March 2017.

Blueprint Presentation

Article: Liability for Misleading Disclosure of Climate Risk: Could US-style claims happen in Australia?

(2017) 32(3) Australian Environment Review


Presentation: Liability for Misleading Disclosure of Climate Risk: Could US-style claims happen in Australia?

National Environmental Law Conference, Melbourne, 18 November 2016


Article: Keeping Good Company in the Transition to a low-Carbon Economy

(2017) 35(3) Company and Securities Law Journal


Article: Carbon Risk Disclosure: the risk for Australian companies

Why two potential law reforms should be part of Turnbull Government's agenda; poor and misleading disclosure of climate risks facing businesses may be a looming legal issue in Australia, but there is also growing evidence it can have a positive effect on companies by encouraging the uptake of clean energy practices.


Submission: 2015 Senate Inquiry into Carbon Risk Disclosure

Climate change poses unparalleled financial, legal and physical risks to Australian businesses in all sectors. Specifically, carbon risk - including risks associated with the future regulation and pricing of carbon emissions and financial and legal risks associated with stranded carbon assets is a growing concern for the resource and finance sector. For companies, carbon risk disclosure focuses attention internally on developing strategies to manage carbon risks and to harness associated market opportunities, including accelerating investments in technological innovation and clean energy. Carbon risk disclosure is also critical to market transparency, allowing investors to use this information in their strategic decision-making. This inquiry is a timely opportunity to assess the practices of Australian companies in this area against emerging international frameworks for carbon risk disclosure, including new regulatory frameworks in leading economies such as the United States and France.

Read our submission

Link to the inquiry submissions

Presentation: Climate Risk Disclosure

Regulating the Energy Transition: Issues at the Intersection of Energy and Environmental Law, Oxford, 30 June - 1 July 2016


Launch of Women’s Energy and Climate Law Network (WECLN)

WECLN has been established by Jacqueline Peel (Professor, Melbourne Law School) and Hari Osofksy (Dean, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs) to create a virtual community of female energy/climate law scholars and practitioners to share research, provide mentoring support, and give voice to women’s perspectives on energy/climate law issues. Read more about the network and its launch in Melbourne in December 2017.

Link to WECLN Page

What's New?

The Conversation: Rio Tinto’s climate change resolution marks a significant shift in investor culture


New Report Available: Climate Principles for Enterprises

The Climate Principles for Enterprises seeks to formulate the obligations of enterprises and investors in the face of climate change. The principles have been put together by experts in international, environmental, tort, human rights and company law, and are based on their interpretation of the law as it stands or will likely develop.


Article featuring Professor Jacqueline Peel: Legal threat raises stakes on climate forecasts


The Conversation: Climate Change is a financial risk according to a lawsuit against the CBA



Podcast: Professor Jacqueline Peel - Is Climate Change Bad for Business Bottom Line?


New Climate Change Laws for Victoria – a boost for the business of clean energy transition