LAWS6320 - Climate Disaster Law

LAWS6320 - Climate Disaster Law

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Recent extreme weather events and disasters around the world have resulted in loss of life, property, infrastructure and livelihoods and have severely disrupted the normal functioning of the societies which they have impacted. Worldwide insured losses alone from weather-related disasters have risen from US$5.1 billion per year between 1970-1989 to US$27 billion annually over the past two decades. International climate change negotiations have, over the past five years, delivered outcomes that are entirely inadequate to meet the goal set by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of keeping the rise in average global temperatures below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures. This unit of study adopts a climate justice approach to assess the respective roles and responsibilities of government and insurers to avoid, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and compensate for, the risks of climate disasters.

The questions of avoidance and recovery will rely heavily on traditional Environmental Law mechanisms such as environmental planning and assessment and pollution and waste regimes, as well as the protection of biodiversity.

The unit will also assess the viability of tort law and strict liability regimes for hazardous activities to compensate those who are impacted by climate disasters. The strict liability regimes include: global oil pollution spills, hazardous chemicals, asbestos and nuclear disasters.

The unit will be taught by an esteemed international team of climate lawyers and individuals with experience in the insurance industry.

The objectives of this unit of study are to: Understand the science presented in two recent scientific reports, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2012 Special Report Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX), published in 2012, and the Australian Climate Commission’s (CCC) 2013 The Critical Decade: Extreme Weather, (Extreme Weather Report, Understand the foundations of climate justice in the context of climate disasters, Understand the relevance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the loss and damage mechanism, and the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, The role of governments in enacting climate disaster risk reduction laws including: The role of Environmental and Planning Assessment Law and Building Codes in attempting to prevent climate disasters, Pollution, waste and contamination laws in the post-disaster phases, Biodiversity Law that is expected to protect species from the impacts of climate change and disasters, as well as promote ecosystems as disaster prevention measures, Governance arrangements between levels of government during and post the disaster, Compensatory regimes including those provided by government and the private sector through ex-post disaster relief, insurance and the capital markets; and The strengths and weaknesses of tort and strict liability regimes for compensating the victims of disaster.


  • 8,000-10,000 Word Essay (100%)

Assessment Due Date

8 September 2014


Semester 2 Intensive
Session 107 (United Kingdom)
Sydney Law School in Europe
7, 8 & 10, 11 July 2014

For enrolment, fee and accommodation information, please visit the Sydney Law School in Europe website

The timetable is subject to frequent changes. Please refer to the latest version of the Postgraduate Timetable.

Please note: This unit has a restricted class size.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

You can credit this unit towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Units of study that are part of Sydney Law School’s Postgraduate Program meet the necessary Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) of the Law Society of New South Wales and the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements of the New South Wales Bar Association. You may complete this unit of study by enrolling on a non-degree basis or on an audit basis only with no assessment via Single Unit Study.

Courses this unit is available in

Master of Laws | Master of Global Law | Master of Law and International Development | Master of Environmental Law | Master of International Law | Graduate Diploma in Law | Graduate Diploma in Environmental Law | Graduate Diploma in International Law