Sydney, 22 February 2011

Door: Jonathan Verschuuren (TLS) | Categorie: Australia, Climate

At the end of my three-year term as vice dean of Tilburg Law School on 1 January 2011, my family and I headed down under for a six-month research sabbatical at the University of Sydney, at the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law (ACCEL) to be precise. In the weeks we have been here, this country has been hit by its worst-ever floods, the worst cyclone in living memory, a record-breaking heat wave and fierce forest fires. The impact of climate change is huge here, and climate law and policy are consequently the focus of a great deal of attention. There is even a separate Ministry of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, which in itself is an indication that the importance the government attaches to this theme is quite different from that in the Netherlands. Yet there is still a great deal to be done. Unlike in the Netherlands, for instance, a start is only just being made on earmarking flood areas along major rivers. It took the severe flooding in Queensland in January to get that far. Moreover, Australia holds huge reserves of coal, which is complicating the debate on the transition to sustainable energy.

Over the next few months, together with my new ACCEL colleagues, I will concentrate on the new, fascinating and rapidly-evolving legal discipline of climate law. I shall focus on adaptation, in other words adapting society to the changing climate. In order to be able to deal with the changes we will face over the next few decades, initial signs of which are already visible, far-reaching global measures are required which involve many legal issues. This blog will look at these issues in more detail over the next few months.

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