How can the law address climate change?

10 December 2012

A conference this afternoon, hosted by the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law (ACCEL) at Sydney Law School, will examine how the law can deal better with the growing number of climate extremes being influenced by climate change.

The law is crucial in aiding future avoidance, management and recovery from the likes of floods, hurricanes, temperature extremes and bushfires, says Professor Rosemary Lyster, Director of ACCEL. ACCEL's conference 'Climate change, catastrophic risk and disaster law' to be held on Monday 10 December will look at the emerging area of Climate Disaster Law in closer detail.

The conference comes as Australia's Climate Commission has indicated Hurricane Sandy which devastated the east coast of the US was influenced by climate change. Meanwhile a report titled Turn Down the Heat prepared for the World Bank now warns the planet is on track for a four degree Celsius rise in temperature this century with disastrous consequences.

Professor Lyster says the conference will look at six key issues:

  • the most recent science on whether the world's climate has become more extreme as a result of climate change
  • disaster risk reduction where environmental planning and assessment for buildings and infrastructure are crucial
  • disaster preparedness and response which looks at which levels of government should take the lead
  • compensation and risk sharing between insurers, government and civil society
  • disaster recovery practices, including rebuilding, managing contaminated water and the disposal of debris, and
  • climate disasters in the context of climate justice.

Regarding disaster preparedness, the conference's keynote speaker, Professor Dan Farber from Berkeley University says the United States' Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has vastly improved since its inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"Perhaps most importantly, FEMA has the full, direct backing of the White House," Professor Farber recently blogged. "FEMA's primary role is to coordinate responses from diverse federal agencies, from the Pentagon to the Commerce Department. They all have bureaucracies and priorities of their own. But they'll respond a lot more quickly and effectively if they know the White House is focused on the issue and will back up FEMA."

Lawyers and barristers attending the afternoon conference receive three MCLE/CPD units.

Event details

What: 2012 ACCEL Conference: Climate change, catastrophic risk and disaster law

When: 1.30 to 5pm, Monday 10 December

Where: New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map

Book now online

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