LAW 2568 - Climate Change Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2020

Climate change poses enormous challenges due to its wide-ranging implications and long-term effects to the environment, economy and society. This course examines the various legal regimes, approaches and responses to climate change at the international and national level from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to Australian federal, state and local legislation. It will also consider the broader scientific, policy, ethical and normative debates that overlay and add context to the legal measures and solutions-undertaken to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2568
    Course Climate Change Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW1501 and LAW1508
    Restrictions Available to LLB and B.Criminology with B.Laws and BArts Advanced with B.Laws students only
    Course Description Climate change poses enormous challenges due to its wide-ranging implications and long-term effects to the environment, economy and society. This course examines the various legal regimes, approaches and responses to climate change at the international and national level from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to Australian federal, state and local legislation. It will also consider the broader scientific, policy, ethical and normative debates that overlay and add context to the legal measures and solutions-undertaken to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Kerryn Brent

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Explain the development of climate change law and policy from an international and Australian context.
    2. Critically reflect on the range of social, political, ethical, economic and ecological factors that influence climate change law, policy, and decision-making.
    3. Conduct legal research and generate a medium length research essay.
    4. Demonstrate oral communication skills and collaboration by discussing and debating theoretical propositions, methodologies and legal problems related to climate change.
    5. Apply climate change law to complex issues, and critique the law from a practical perspective, either individually or as part of a team.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2, 4,5
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There are no required texts in this course. Students will, however, need to be able to access a number of international agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto-Protocol, the 2015 Paris Agreement and other pieces of Commonwealth and state legislation used during part of the course, in particular, on a range of areas such as emission reductions and trading schemes, renewable energy targets, carbon pricing mechanisms, energy conservation, and energy efficiency. These can be found online through the various United Nations and government websites.
    Recommended Resources

    There are no recent general textbooks on climate change law specific to the laws in Australia and South Australia, although Alexander Zahar, Jacqueline Peel and Lee Godden's 2012 book provides excellent general introduction to the range of issues that are commonly addressed in the Australian context. Alexander Zahar, Jacqueline Peel and Lee Godden, Australian Climate Law in Global Context
    (Cambridge University Press, 2012). For a comprehensive overview of international climate change law, see Daniel Bodansky, Jutta
    Brunnée, and Lavanya Rajamani, International Climate Change Law (Oxford University Press, 2017)


    Other reference that students may find useful: Daniel Klein et al. (eds), The Paris Agreement on Climate Chnage (OUP, 2017); Daniel Farber and Marjan Peeters (eds), Climate Change Law (Edward Elgar, 2016).  

    The Law Library’s website contains links for conducting legal research, both primary sources (legislation and case law) and secondary sources (articles and books), at

    For journal articles, the Law Library’s link is:

    For legislation, the Law Library’s link is:

    Recommended internet sites for legislation, which can also be accessed through the Law Library’s website are: ▪ Commonwealth of Australia Law (ComLaw) -  â–ª South Australian Legislation –
    Online Learning
    MyUni will be used for communication and as a discussion board. Specifically, it will be utilised to post announcements, post additional lecture materials (including slides, and where available, audio recordings of lectures) and announce assignment tasks. It will also contain electronic copies of the Course Profile, Lecture and Seminar Guides, and Course Materials. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The Climate Change Law course has a value of 3 units and will involve three-hour block of lectures each week. Lectures commence in the first week of semester one. Also, lectures will take place in the same venue with a break at each hour or as required. The lectures will provide an introduction to the topics and issues dealt with that week. Sometimes the lecture will consist of a close reading of the materials for the week. At others, it will range more broadly and may include extracts from a documentary. Although it is a lecture, it will be run, in part, in seminar mode: i.e. the lecturer will be asking questions and inviting comments along the way. It is also considered useful to demonstrate how some of the issues dealt with in the lectures may then be applied in a practical sense and accordingly a number will examine problem scenarios and require students to address those problems given the legal and policy tools available. The problem exercises, which may include simulation exercises, will also illustrate some of the inherent complexities of applying a mixture of law and policy measures in this area as well as the very political nature of so many of the government decisions and actions on climate change issues. Guest speakers, if available, are expected to be drawn from academics and practitioners to provide lectures on highly specialized topics of climate change law.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    The course requires a combined weekly commitment of 3 hours attending lectures or a total of 36 hours of formal class time across the semester. In addition to the time spent attending the lectures, there is a requirement that students prepare for the lectures. To actively and productively participate, students will have to do reading and preparation. Students should expect to spend 6-7
    hours per week doing this. Approximately 10-15 hours should be spent on the annotated bibliography and 30-50 hours should be spent on the research essay.

    Learning Activities Summary
    A schedule of topics will be provided through MyUni before Week 1 of the course.
    Topics that may be covered include:
    Science and ethics of climate change
    History of the international climate change regime
    Structure and content of the UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement
    Flexibility mechanisms, including the Clean Development Mechanism
    Climate change risk and litigation
    Adaptation, including by local governments
    Climate justice/loss and damage/climate refugees
    Climate and the oceans
    Climate change and forests
    Climate change and agriculture
    Climate intervention proposals (carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management)
    Climate change and energy: carbon taxes, emissions trading, renewable energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type
    Due Weighting Length Redeemable Learning Outcomes
    Class Participation  Individual 10% No 1, 2, 4, 5
    Annotated biography Individual 25th September 2020 2pm 30% 2000 words No 1, 2, 5
    Research Essay Individual 30th October 2020 2pm 60% 4000 words No 1, 2, 3, 5
    Total 100%
    Assessment Detail
    Class Participation
    The class participation mark is comprised of attendance, level of preparation and contribution to small and large group discussions. There a minimum attendance requirement of 10/12 weeks.

    Annotated bibliography
    Students are to select a research question from the list provide that will form the basis of their major essay. For this task, students are to research and review literature relating to their chosen question and produce an annotate bibliography that summarises and evaluates key sources. This task must be submitted electronically to Turnitin, a software program that checks for plagiarism. Instructions on submission to Turnitin will be distributed on MyUni. The annotated bibliography will be due 25 September 2020, 2pm.    

    • Research Paper
    For the major essay, students will undertake a substantial amount of independent research that follows on from their annotated bibliography. The research essay will be no more than 4000 words long (excluding title page information and bibliography). Words are calculated including all footnotes or other references and all headings within the text. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count. The skills that are of central importance for this essay include: ability to provide argument and critical thinking skills; ability to fairly reconstruct a position and argument in regard to a particular issue; and the ability to express your own thoughts and reason and argue about the material that you are addressing (this is your argument). The essay must be submitted electronically to Turnitin, a software program that checks for plagiarism. Instructions on submission to Turnitin will be distributed on MyUni. The essay is due on Friday 30 October, 2pm.
    The annotated bibliography and essay must be submitted electronically to Turnitin on My Uni on the due date. Students must retain a copy of the annotated bibliography and essay submitted.

    Penalty for Late Submission

    When an assessment is submitted after the due date, without an extension, 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend and public holidays. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.

    Penalty for Exceeding Stipulated Word Length

    5% of the total mark possible for a written assessment will be deducted for every 100 words (or part thereof) by which it exceeds a stipulated word limit. For example, a 4000 word essay graded at 63% will have 5% deducted if it is between 4001 and 4100 words long for a final mark of 58%. If the essay is between 4101 and 4200 words long, 10% will be deducted for a final mark of 53%, etc. Word limits include all words in the text, in headings, in quotations, but exclude citations in footnotes. Any separate cover page, table of contents, bibliography or list of sources is excluded from the word limit. If the word limit is misstated, this may be regarded as academic dishonesty.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Finality of Assessment Grades

    Students are advised that Course Coordinators will not enter into negotiations of any kind with any student regarding changes to their grades. It is irrelevant, in any given circumstance, that only a minimal number of additional marks are required to inflate a student’s grade for any individual assessment item or course as a whole. Pursuant to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policyand the Adelaide Law School Assessment Policies and Procedures, grades may only be varied through the appropriate channels for academic review (such as an official re-mark).


    In accordance with the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, course coordinators ‘ensure that appropriate marking guidelines and cross-marking moderation processes across markers are in place’ in each course. Procedures adopted by Adelaide Law School to ensure consistency of marking in courses with multiple markers include:

    *assurance of the qualifications of markers, and their knowledge of the content covered in each course;
    *detailed marking guidelines and assessment rubrics to assist in the marking of items of assessment;
    *sharing of example marked assessments at various grade bands across markers;
    *reviewing of selected marked assessments from each marker by the course coordinator;
    *comparison of the marks and their distribution across markers;
    *automatic double-marking of all interim assessment receiving a fail grade, and of final assessments where a student’s overall result is a fail grade;
    *the availability of re-marking of assessments in accordance with Adelaide Law School’s Assessment Policies and Procedures.

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners

    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Access Adelaide at the end of each semester.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    Student feedback The course is constantly being updated and revised to reflect the evolution of the law, to respond to student feedback, and to engage with the latest teaching practices. Student feedback is collected each time the course is run, including through SELT reports. Previous SELT reports, and staff feedback on them, are posted on the course MyUni site for students to view and consider.
  • Student Support
    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    The centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Academic Honesty
    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic dishonesty (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.