• The Building Blocks Strategy for Mitigation Progress under the Paris Agreement.

    Professor Richard Stewart, New York University, 4 February 2016.

    The Paris Agreement embodies a tectonic shift to a bottom up approach to international climate cooperation. Given 20 years of impasse under a top-down approach, decomposition of climate policy into smaller problem-solving components is a crucial step forward. But bottom up does not mean “each tub on its own bottom.” Relying on countries to implement their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to mitigation autonomously is a recipe for failure. Many countries, especially developing countries, need assistance in the form of investment and development finance, technology transfer, and capacity building.to reduce GHG emission while also promoting their areas of primary concern: economic, security, environmental and health and social goals. At the same time, GHG reductions must ultimately be achieved through specific regulatory, technology, development, and finance initiatives in particular sectors. Developing countries and mitigation progress can benefit greatly from transnational cooperation between public and private actors in order to pool resources and knowhow, build capacity and investment, experiment with different measures, track their performance, and identify and demonstrate best practices.

    In order to meet these needs, the Building Block approach proposes an array of smaller scale, specialized regimes for transnational cooperation in particular sectors and geographic areas. It reaches beyond states to mobilize the energies and resources of business firms, NGOs, international organizations, and subnational governments as well as national governments. The approach relies on three distinct institutional logics -- clubs, institutional linkages, and dominant market actors – to mobilize and align a variety of non-climate incentives for actors to take actions that also reduce GHG emissions as a co-benefit. These may include profits for businesses, economic development and energy security for countries, and mission advancement for development funders. The building blocks strategy seeks to take advantage of climate altruism on the part of some actors but deploy other incentives to entice participation by others. In these ways, the strategy can help drive mitigation progress in order to achieve NDC targets and support increased ambition.

    The building blocks strategy and the Paris approach are strongly complementary. Specific elements of the Paris Agreement can and should be developed to mobilize Building Blocks initiatives to stimulate transnational mitigation innovation and investment, thereby promoting by other means the goals of the now-obsolete Clean Development Mechanism.

    Presenter Richard Stewart , University Professor; John Edward Sexton Professor of Law; Director, Frank J. Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law (New York University)

    Richard B. Stewart is University Professor, John Edward Sexton Professor of Law, and Director of the Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law at New York University. He is an internationally recognized scholar in environmental law and policy and administrative law and regulation. His current research interests include; global regulation and global administrative law, international and domestic climate change regulatory policy, and nuclear waste regulatory law and policy.

    Stewart previously served as Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he led the prosecution of Exxon for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and the U.S. position on the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change. Prior to joining the Justice Department, he taught at the Harvard Law School and Kennedy School of Government for 18 years. He also served as Special Counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee and as a law clerk to Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was formerly Chairman and currently serves as Advisory Trustee of Environmental Defense Fund. Stewart was a Rhodes Scholar, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute.

    A graduate of Yale, Oxford, and Harvard Law School, he holds honorary degrees from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and the Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

  • Traditional Fire Management and Climate Change

    Nolan Hunter CEO KLC, Ari Gorring, Strategic Business Development KLC, Sam Johnston, Visint International Research Visitor and author of UN Report on savanna burning, 19 February 2016.

    Speakers: Nolan Hunter CEO KLC, Ari Gorring, Strategic Business Development, KLC, Sam Johnston, Visiting International Research Visitor and author of UN report on savanna burning

    Over the past decade Traditional Fire Management (TFM) projects in Northern Australia have combined traditional approaches to fire management with scientifically robust emissions accounting methods to deliver substantial reductions in wildfire and greenhouse gas emissions, producing Australian Carbon Credits Units (ACCUs).  They have also delivered social and environmental outcomes through improving biodiversity and landscape health, reinvigorating social and cultural traditions, strengthening climate change adaptability, reversing socio-economic disadvantage and increasing employment opportunities in some of the most important and biodiverse landscapes of the world.

    These TFM projects represent a rapidly developing business in Australia that will play an increasingly important role in climate change policies.  55 projects are registered with the Australian Government’s Emission Reduction Fund.  Through the ERF process the Government has agreed to pay over $90m for 7m savanna burning ACCUs.  New methodologies are expected to be approved this year that will significantly expand the opportunities.  A recent UN report has demonstrated significant international potential for further expansion of these methods.  A leader in this development is the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) who has facilitated the establishment of four Savanna carbon projects in the Kimberley.

    The next few years will significantly shape the future prospects for TFM projects. Australia’s climate change policies are set for comprehensive review in 2017 and climate change will be a key issue in the next Federal Election in 2016.  The UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement provides important opportunities for land use management and carbon trading, that TFM can make an important contribution to achieving.

    This seminar will bring together leading experts to discuss some of the key challenges that TFM projects face, focusing on the following points:- * Securing carbon rights for Native Title holders to use the biosequestration methodology; * Developing value for co-benefits; and * The role of savanna burning in future domestic and international climate change policy developments.

    Nolan Hunter was the CEO of the Kimberley Land Council – a not-for‑profit organisation that assists Aboriginal people to secure land rights. He is also the Chairman of the National Native Title Council and a member of the Western Australian State Government Kimberley Regional Planning Committee.Mr Hunter is an active campaigner for Indigenous native title rights and management of country.

    Ariadne Gorring is currently the Land and Sea Unit Manager at the Kimberley Land Council. Ariadne has worked at the KLC for more than 10 years in a variety of positions, including coordinating the National Heritage Project which resulted in the successful listing of the Kimberley for its Indigenous cultural values. Ariadne completed a Sustainable Development and Entrepreneurship degree at Murdoch University and has a particular interest in the implementation of Traditional Owner aspirations in a post native title setting.

    Sam Johnston is a member of CREEL and currently an International Research Visitor at the Melbourne Law School. Visiting from the United Nations University, Sam has degrees in chemistry and law and is a qualified lawyer in the Supreme Court of Victoria. He is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, and a member of the Panel of Experts for the Benefit-sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

    This Seminar was hosted by CREEL, 19 February 2016.

  • The End of Sustainability and the Role of Resilience Thinking in Natural Resource Management

    Professor Robin Craig, William H. Leary Professor of Law, University of Utah, 23 February 2016.

    Panel Members: Katherine Lake (Lawyer and Policy Advisor); Felicity Millner (Director of Litigation, Environmental Justice Australia); Erin O'Donnell (Senior Fellow, University of Melbourne); Anita Foerster (Environmental Governance Researcher, University of Melbourne).

    As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledges in its 2014 assessment reports, climate change puts sustainability goals and sustainable development at risk. Nevertheless, governments and other governance entities have been reluctant to acknowledge this risk, even as synergistic impacts on natural resources is demonstrating that the limits of the planet are being reached (and maybe exceeded) and that human well-being is being actively retarded in socio-ecological systems where the "ecological" part is crashing. We have not yet learned to live with the trickster that is climate change, and this talk argues that resilience thinking offers a better paradigm that sustainability for moving forward because it actively incorporates transformative change as a socio-ecological reality and norm.

    This Seminar was hosted by CREEL, 23 February 2016.

  • Transnational Corporations and Sustainable Development: Clash or Mutual Supportiveness between Human Rights and Investment Law?

    Dr Marcos A. Orellana, Adjunct Associate Professor, George Washington University School fo Law and Director of the Human Rights and Environment Program at the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) in Washington, 20 April 2016.

    The sustainable development paradigm is increasingly looking at businesses as a key actor in multi-stakeholder partnerships. While some highlight the value of these partnerships and soft law instruments like the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for their ability to build consensus and effectuate change, others point to the limitations of voluntary initiatives in preventing abuses and securing accountability. Against this backdrop, in July 2014 the UN Human Rights Council mandated negotiations toward a binding instrument on transnational corporations with respect to human rights.

    Proponents argued that contemporary international law sources contemplate rights for corporations but no obligations to respect human rights and the environment. They further argued that these structural imbalances were aggravated by economic globalization and the governance gaps in many States, in the end denying victims of corporate abuse access to an effective remedy. This seminar will map the landscape of the current debate on the interplay of human rights and investment law as it has unfolded in the negotiations of the “TNC Treaty”, and it will also explore the conceptual tensions and synergies that concern the role of TNCs in the sustainable development process.


    Marcos A. Orellana is Adjunct Associate Professor at the George Washington University School of Law and Director of the Human Rights and Environment Program at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) in Washington DC. Prior to joining CIEL, Dr. Orellana was a Fellow to the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law of the University of Cambridge in the UK, a Visiting Scholar with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington DC, and Instructor Professor of international law at the Universidad de Talca in Chile. Dr. Orellana has provided legal advice to various international governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the UN Environment Programme and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Dr. Orellana has also served as legal counsel for the Chilean Government in international negotiations, including the Rio+20 Conference and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

    This Seminar was hosted jointly by CREEL and the Centre for Corporate Law and Securities Regulation (CCLSR), 20 April 2016.

  • Roundtable Event - CREEL and Asian Law Centre

    Ritwick Dutta, Environmental Lawyer and Managing Trustee, Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, India, 28 July 2016.

    Ritwick Dutta is an Environmental Lawyer & Managing Trustee, Legal Initiative for Forest and
    Environment. He has focused exclusively on environmental litigation and has supported
    communities, civil society groups and affected citizens in bringing environmental issues before
    the Court. His principle focus is the National Green Tribunal where he also serves as the
    Secretary of the National Green Tribunal Bar Association. Ritwick is an Ashoka Fellow and is the
    recipient of the Carl Zeiss Roll of Honour 2005. The Sanctuary ABN AMRO Award 2007, the
    NDTV Green Hero Award 2010, the Balipara Foundation Award 2015. He is the Board member
    of NGO Platform on Shipbreaking and leads The Access Initiative – South Asia, the largest
    network of CSO’s working on access to information, public participation & access to justice. He
    has authored 13 books on environmental law including the Supreme Court on ForestConservation and National Green Tribunal published by Universal Law Publishing.

    This Roundtable was hosted jointly by CREEL and the Asian Law Centre, 28 July 2016.

  • Ecosystem Services in the US: Principles, Policies and Practices

    Dr Lydia Olander, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University, 28 July 2016.

    Lydia directs the Ecosystem Services Program in the Nicholas Institute. She co-leads Duke’s
    Ecosystem Services Working Group; and leads the National Ecosystem Services Partnership
    which is currently coordinating the Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services
    Project. She also works on environmental markets and mitigation, including forestry and
    agricultural based climate mitigation; wetland, stream and endangered species mitigation; and
    water quality trading. For the past two months Lydia has been a Visiting Fellow in the School ofEcosystem and Forest Sciences.

    This event was hosted jointly by CREEL and the Asian Law Centre, 28 July 2016.

  • The Geopolitics of Energy and Investment Arbitration

    Professor Anatole Boute, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 4 August 2016.

    Energy is not just a key economic sector, it is also of crucial geostrategic importance.
    The dual economic and strategic nature of energy influences the regulation of trade and investment
    in this industry.However, the legal discipline is poorly equipped to fully understand the inherent
    complexity of energy security. This paper proposes to use theories of “geopolitics” – i.e. the analysis
    of the interaction between geographical forces and political processes – to reflect the strategic nature of energy in the legal analysis of this sector. The focus is on the regulation of energy investments. Foreign control over strategic energy assets can be perceived as a threat to national energy security. State-owned energy companies can be used as “geopolitical actors” in the pursuit of broader foreign policy objectives. Building on the “geopolitics”, energy law and investment law literature, this paper examines the regulation of “geopolitical investments” under investment arbitration and, on this basis, proposes a new interdisciplinary perspective to the study of energy security and investment protection.

    Professor Anatole Boute is an Associate Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and
    Legal Advisor to the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group).

    This Seminar was hosted jointly by CREEL, and the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies (CCCS), 4 August 2016.

  • Recent Develoments in Aboriginal Title Law in Canada: Tsilhqotin Nation v. British Columbia (SCC 2014) and its impact.

    Professor Emeritus Kent McNeil, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, 25 October 2016.

    In June, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a declaration of Aboriginal title to land for the first time in Canadian history. The judgment clarified a number of issues, including what is necessary to prove Aboriginal title, whether it is site-specific or territorial, the content of Aboriginal title and of the Crown’s underlying title, and the extent of provincial authority in relation to Aboriginal title land. But the decision also left a number of issues unresolved, in particular the relevance of Indigenous law to Aboriginal title and the continuing governance authority of Indigenous peoples. The decision will also affect land claims negotiations in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada, though it is still too early to assess the extent of this impact.

    Kent McNeil is a distinguished research professor (emeritus) at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, where he has taught since 1987.

    This Conference was hosted by CREEL, 25 October 2016.

  • Workshop - Shaping the Next Generation of Australian Climate Litigation

    Led by Professor Jacqueline Peel and Dr Anita Foerster, University of Melbourne, 17 November 2016.

    Workshop Agenda
    Introduction & Update on US election implications - Jacqueline Peel & Hari Osofsky

    Roundtable Discussion

    *What is ‘next generation’ climate litigation?
    *What are the drivers and barriers for next generation climate litigation?*How does it interact with first generation litigation?

    Avenues for Next Generation Climate Litigation

    *What are the emerging options?
    *How do these compare with previous climate litigation models?

    oPublic Trust Doctrine & Rights-based Litigation (drawing on US experience) – Hari Osofsky, University of Minnesota
    oTorts? - Negligence and Public Nuisance? An Urgenda case in Australia? – Tim Baxter, University of Melbourne
    oCorporations / Securities law avenues – Sarah Barker, MinterEllison
    oAdaptation Litigation going forward – Tayanah O’Donnell, University of CanberraoReflections on Queensland Coal Litigation – a continuing role for statutory & administrative avenues? – Sean Ryan, EDO Qld

    Taking Next Generation Climate Litigation Forward

    *Using climate change science in litigation - David Karoly, University of Melbourne
    *Procedural issues, courts, substantive causes of action, building networks – Ariane Wilkinson, Environment Justice Australia*Strategic partnering / facilitative litigation – Anita Foerster, University of Melbourne

    This Australian Research Council project workshop was hosted by CREEL, 17 November 2016.

  • The Paris Agreement - Where to Now and What are the Impacts to Australia?

    Panel Members, Sam Johnston (Senior Research Fellow, United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU IAS); Emily Gerrard (Co-Head of Allens' Climate Change Group and specialist Environmental Lawyer); Alexandria Rantino (Senior Policy Officer, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), 8 December 2016.

    The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, revitalised efforts to tackle climate change. The Agreement
    entered into force less than a year after its adoption, having been ratified by well over 100 countries,
    including Australia. The 22nd United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP22), which took place from 7-18 November 2016 in Marrakech, delivered a work plan to develop the rules that will underpin the Paris Agreement over the next couple of years. It also recognised the strong complementary emissions-reduction efforts being made this year under the Montreal Protocol, International Civil Aviation Organisation, and International Maritime Organisation. There are many opportunities for Australia in the global shift to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. There will also be challenges to international efforts to tackle climate change, including the recent election of Donald Trump, a self professed climate sceptic.

    This seminar brings together three participants of COP22 to consider:
    * The main outcomes of the COP and other developments in addressing climate change
    * Challenges and opportunities that lie ahead
    * How these efforts will affect Australia

    Panel Members

    Sam Johnston is a Senior Research Fellow at the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU IAS) - a policy think tank for the United Nations based in Japan. He has 26 years’ experience in working on climate change issues at an international level. Sam is also a Senior Fellow at the Faculty of Law for 2017 and a member of the advisory board at the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, University of Melbourne; and a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law.

    Emily Gerrard is Co-Head of Allens' Climate Change Group and a specialist environmental lawyer.
    Emily's experience includes advising clients on a range of environmental regulatory and compliance
    matters, including the Australian Government's Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), ERF Safeguard
    Mechanism and the inclusion of Indigenous land tenures in the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming
    Initiative) Act 2011, as well as participation in native vegetation, biodiversity, carbon and water

    Alexandria Rantino is a senior policy officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which
    leads Australia’s negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Alex negotiates on technology and trade-related issues under the UNFCCC, and shipping emissions under the International Maritime Organisation. Previously, Alex has worked at the Climate Change Authority, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and United Nations Environment Programme.

    This Seminar was hosted by CREEL, 8 December 2016.