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Environmental law and climate change

Confronting the global challenges of climate change

We engage in innovative and internationally recognised research that informs our teaching, law reform interventions and public education and engagement in all areas of climate and environmental law and policy. 

Our vision

 Through our research, we are:

  • influencing international academic scholarship by publishing in leading international journals and with outstanding academic publishers
  • forming strong international collaborations on research and teaching
  • engaging with multidisciplinary centres at the University of Sydney, with other related centres and institutions in Australia and overseas, with the legal profession, and with the wider community
  • providing outstanding supervision and training for postgraduate research students
  • providing undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students with a high-quality teaching and learning experience
  • informing policy and influencing decision makers
  • having a strong environmental and social impact.

Our work

Our research addresses the ways in which the law responds to the global challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, at the international, regional and domestic levels.

  • Professor Rosemary Lyster is a leading international scholar in the area of climate law, especially in climate justice and disaster law, reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+), and energy law. 
  • Associate Professor Ed Couzens is a widely published writer and editor who focuses on international and national law relating to the protection of biodiversity generally as well as the conservation of wildlife. 
  • Dr Kate Owens focuses on the dynamics of environmental law, regulation and governance, particularly in the areas of climate finance and environmental water markets. 
  • Professor Tim Stephens is an international law scholar whose latest work assesses the implications of global environmental change for environmental treaty regimes.
  • Professor Ben Saul is also an international law scholar whose research focuses on climate change-induced displacement in Asia and the Pacific.
  • Associate Professor Celeste Black is a taxation law scholar whose work explores the tax issues raised by carbon pricing mechanisms, with recent focus on linking emissions trading systems.
  • Emeritus Professor Ben Boer’s research explores human rights, climate change, heritage and sustainable development law as well as the emerging notion of the environmental rule of law.

Our impact

We aim to:

  • influence international research in our areas of expertise through the publication of articles in leading international journals and books with outstanding academic publishers
  • attract outstanding international researchers to Sydney Law School
  • influence the making of effective and science-based international, regional and domestic law and policy frameworks, including by being appointed to government law reform bodies
  • attract outstanding postgraduate research and coursework students to Sydney Law School
  • inform and engage communities and advocates working toward improved climate and environmental law outcomes
  • better decisions made by government and policymakers.

Our research has also led to novel and highly acclaimed teaching modules including programs such as Climate Disaster Law, and Law, Tropical Forests and Carbon, both taught at Cambridge University in the UK under the Sydney Law School in Europe program.

Our experts