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Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law

Research and teaching in climate and environmental law

Discover one of Australia’s leading centres for environmental law and climate change expertise.

The Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law is world renowned for interdisciplinary research, education and public engagement in these areas of law.

Our researchers have outstanding international and domestic reputations, as well as strong connections with eminent scholars at international institutions. The centre also has enduring links with leading members of the legal profession, including the judiciary, who contribute to the teaching and seminar programs and, at times, research activities.

Our experts

Rosemary Lyster

Professor Rosemary Lyster,
Co-Director, Leader of the discipline

Visit Professor Lyster's academic profile.

Ed Couzens

Associate Professor Ed Couzens, Co-Director

Visit Associate Professor Couzens' academic profile.

Kate Owens

Dr Kate Owens, Deputy Director

Visit Dr Kate Owens' academic profile.

Tim Stephens

Professor Tim Stephens, Member

Visit Professor Tim Stephens' academic profile.

Nicole Graham

Associate Professor Nicole Graham, Member

Visit Associate Professor Nicole Graham's academic profile.

Madeline Taylor

Dr Madeleine Taylor

Visit Dr Madeleine Taylor's academic profile.

Each year, the centre hosts an array of eminent international scholars who teach, present seminar/conference papers and undertake research in the area of climate and environmental law. The centre also conducts and sponsors international and domestic conferences, seminars, workshops, lectures and other similar activities.

Members of the centre have established wide networks of relationships with researchers around the world, including within Columbia Law School, Berkeley Law School, Tilburg Law School, Maastricht Law School, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, University of Hawaii at Manoa and the National University of Singapore.

The centre attracts and supervises to completion high-quality postgraduate students, and develops innovative units of study in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

Sydney Law School affiliates

Sessional lecturers in the Master of Environmental Law program

A key aspect of the centre’s governance structure is the Advisory Board, which comprises members appointed by the Dean on the advice of the Executive Committee. The Advisory Board consists of individuals with a strong interest in environmental law, including judges, practitioners, scholars, representatives of industry and members of the wider community who have made an important contribution to the field, both in Australia and overseas. The Chair of the Advisory Board is the centre director. The board meets at least once every year in order to advise the co-directors and Sydney Law School on all aspects of the activities of the centre.

The Advisory Board currently comprises the following members:

Financial responsibility

Financial responsibility for the centre’s activities is vested in the Dean. The centre’s funds are held in an account maintained by Sydney Law School. The Dean exercises financial responsibility by approving budgets for the centre, prepared by the Director in consultation with the Executive Committee, and by exercising broad oversight of budgetary performance. Day-to-day administration of finances is entrusted to the co-directors in consultation with the Executive Committee.

The Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law (ACCEL) is committed to supporting the next generation of environmental law scholars and practitioners. Our Internship Program provides opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students to gain work experience in environmental law research and policy. Interns participate in a broad range of ACCEL’S activities related to environmental and climate law and justice, and work closely with the Centre’s academic staff members on real-world projects.

  • Current enrolled undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Sydney are eligible to apply.
  • The 2019 ACCEL Internship Program is now closed.
  • Please send queries about the 2020 program to: law.accel@sydney.edu.au

Power Blackouts and Climate Justice

On 7 August 2019, Professor Rosemary Lyster chaired the 2019 ACCEL Distinguished Speakers' Address: Power Blackouts and Climate Justice. Professor Dan Farber, University of California Berkeley and Professor Robert Verchick, Loyola University discussed cases including Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey and Irma, as well as the Queensland floods and Victorian bushfires. They argued that the power sector in all parts of the world needs to become smarter and more resilient, even as it struggles to cut carbon emissions, while acknowledging finding the way forward is difficult.

Professors Lyster, Farber and Verchick and Associate Professor Gregor Verbic, The University of Sydney, have recently been awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant (2019-2021), entitled A legal framework for resilient electricity infrastructure in Australia; a workshop with stakeholders in the power sector has been conducted, and will inform the research.  

Disaster in the Murray-Darling Basin: explanations and consequences

On Thursday 9 May ACCEL and the Sydney Environment Institute hosted an event entitled, 'Disaster in the Murray-Darling Basin: explanations and consequences'. Our speakers were Professor Richard Kingsford from UNSW, Dr Emma Carmody, EDO NSW (whose investigations resulted in the Four Corners 'Pumped' documentary about water theft in the Basin leading to criminal prosecutions), and Professor Sarah Wheeler, a water economist from the University of Adelaide. The forum examined the origins of the challenges and the state of the rivers, the legal frameworks and socio-economic ramifications.

Listen to the podcast.

The event was also broadcast unedited and in full on Sky News Extra Ch 604 three times on Friday, 10 May at 1.30 pm, 6.17 pm and 9.55 pm. We are pleased that these broadcasts will reach a broader audience and enhance the impact of the Murray-Darling disaster.

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