Climate Change and the Law

The legal perspective: Climate change’s influence on future business ventures
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Login via Institution. Currency and addition of Tax VAT depend on your shipping address. Editor: Alexander Zahar. A complex legal regime has evolved to frame climate governance, encompassing interconnected public international law, transnational law and private law elements. At the core of the international effort are the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and now the Paris Agreement, the first two of which have spawned innovative features such as carbon trading mechanisms and a sophisticated compliance regime.

Municipal legislative action dealing with mitigation and adaptation is gathering pace. The focus of the peer-reviewed journal Climate Law is on the many legal issues that arise internationally and at the state level as climate law continues to evolve. Online submission: Articles for publication in Climate Law can be submitted online through Editorial Manager , please click here.

Climate Change Laws of the World

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ISSN: ClientEarth has been leading the field on financial risk litigation. We have developed similar legal strategies against pension funds, with consequential impacts on the flow of private capital to fossil fuel sectors. This category would also include claims against engineers architects and other professional services for breach of their duties of care if they fail to design infrastructure compatible with future climate conditions; and. The final category — claims for failure to disclose climate-related risks to shareholders.

Climate Change in International Law

In Australia, a retail shareholder took the Commonwealth Bank to court for failing to disclose climate related risks in its annual report, and the New York Attorney General has recently launched a lawsuit against Exxon for allegedly deceiving its shareholders in relation to its proxy price on carbon, amongst other things.

Finally, the third broad trend in climate litigation — we are also seeing increasing oversight and enforcement of existing environmental laws. Dieselgate is a classic example of this. Non-compliance with emissions standards is no longer an acceptable way of doing business.

Climate change warriors turn to courts

Regulators will not be turning a blind eye anymore. And CEOs who leave their environmental compliance reading in the bottom of their file for weekend reading will end up in court as happened with the CEO of Volkswagen. Now, these three trends are working independently to create disruption in the energy transitions, but in some cases they work together and then can be a very powerful driver of change.

To illustrate this I want to look briefly at the example of air quality litigation that ClientEarth has been instrumental in bringing over the past six years. Air pollution is a rights based issue.

Climate, the Paris Agreement and the law – a short overview

There are also over 1, climate change cases worldwide. Contact Email: Gri lse. Moreover, if a company fails to comply with any order, award or decision of the Tribunal, the company is punishable with a fine up to INR25 crore. Digital technologies create a wealth of new possibilities around how we define, deliver, and teach law. However, the NGT in many cases has divided the cost of remediation equally amongst the responsible parties, when it is found that more than one legal person is responsible for such contamination. Several States have recently banned plastic packaging for products and imposed strict EPR obligations on generators of plastic waste, which is a trend which is expected to grow across most States in India and companies have to proactively address this shift. How do institutions and the public respond to potential but inchoate catastrophes?

Over , premature deaths are attributed to air pollution in Europe each year. The main cause of air pollution in Europe is the burning of solid fuel and diesel use in transportation. The impacts are felt the most in cities and there has been consistent failure by European cities to meet legally prescribed air quality standards. ClientEarth and its partners have used strategic litigation across Europe to force governments to tackle air pollution. ClientEarth has won three court cases against the UK government over its failure to deal with illegal levels of air pollution.

We have taken authorities in several UK countries including Germany , Belgium , Italy , Slovakia and the Czech Republic to court over illegal levels of air pollution, and we have won. We are seeing diesel bans being imposed in cities across Europe and proposals to ban the production and sale of new diesel and petrol cars. Those companies who fail to adapt to this new reality will open themselves up to financial risk-related climate litigation.

Finally, the increased consumer awareness of the impact on diesel on air quality has led to changes in purchasing choices but also compelled regulators to step in and oversee and enforce emissions standards laws. I guess you can see the direction in which I am heading with all this. The pressures on businesses both current and future from climate-related litigation — and pressures from change in public perception on environmental issues — are acute for many businesses and that is magnified for businesses in the downstream industry.

A recent report from the Energy Transitions Commission which counts among its expert advisors senior representatives from Shell and BP found that achieving the Paris goals is technically possible, at small economic cost, and with only a minor impact on the cost of end consumer products. But it requires governments, industry and consumers to be willing to take the actions required to get us there. I have been asked to discuss the three business strategies available to the refining sector, all of which I am sure are familiar to you.

I expect there are very few of you in this audience that think business as usual is a viable option. It is a risky approach for everyone — for the company itself, for employees and their pensions, for communities and for shareholders as it does not pave the way for necessary change but risks sudden unplanned market disruption.

It will also guarantee significant physical risks to your supply chains, markets, and operations. We need to face the future head on. The current and continuing changes I am talking about to consumer demand, to competitive pressure and to the regulatory framework can be foreseen — perhaps not in detail but the broad direction of travel is clear.

If you fail to assess the specific risks to your business, to act to mitigate risk and to protect value then you may be at risk of litigation. This would be an acceptance that climate change and other factors will have a huge impact on the refining sector and that the industry should go into its final phase and prepare for closure in line with net-zero by mid-century. It is a management approach to an accepted end of a lifecycle in such a way as to minimise costs, losses and other harm. When it does, it will have a big, and under-appreciated, destabilising effect.

The industry needs to be clear that its future is one of long-term decline — whilst returning increasing sums of cash to investors. This approach involves an acknowledgement and acceptance of the trend towards decarbonisation. It accepts that change is needed if businesses are to survive.

It requires companies to plan for net-zero by for developed countries, for developing countries. It is not an easy option, as it requires time, money and willingness to invest in innovation and a long-term commercial strategy that works within the expected new framework of laws. But there are plenty of opportunities to be grasped in the low or zero carbon economy for those willing to take them. The first is bad for your business, bad for the planet, bad for your pensions, and may well open your company up to litigation.

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The second is managed decline. It is no doubt confronting, but it is probably the most certain way to face the uncertainty that lies ahead as you will have time to plan the transition — which benefits employees, your supply chains and your shareholders. The third option is exciting for innovators and leaders who thrive on the opportunities disruption can offer. The risks which climate change poses to business are many — there are physical, transitional and litigation risks.

As governments and people increasingly accept the need to change so that the targets of the Paris Agreement are met, we all — that is individuals and companies — will need to adapt to a zero carbon world.

Climate Change and the International Law of the Sea

And above all else, act now, independently of politicians. Government policy is critical but there is plenty that can be done while we wait for them to get their act together. It is the best legal interests of your company, your employees and your shareholders to act ahead of time. Every sector, profession and person has a role to play in stopping runaway climate change. But your industry has one of the most critical roles to play. I hope that each and every one of you will use your considerable expertise to devise a path forward for our common future. As the Energy Transitions Commission concluded — a zero carbon economy is both technically feasible and affordable.

I hope this will be a strong part of your discussions over the coming days in Cannes. She is an Australian-qualified lawyer. Thomas Hawk. Annual reviews. Document library. Sign up for updates. When you sign up you will receive regular updates on our ongoing work and campaigns to protect the planet for future generations. Sign up for newsletters. Sign up. What we do People Jobs Contact.

Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to come and speak. Climate, the Paris Agreement and the law — a short overview For those of you who are not familiar with ClientEarth , we are a global environmental charity using the power of the law to protect people and the planet. In the context of climate change, what better place to start than the Paris Agreement?

Transition risks Starting with transition risks relevant to the refining sector — these arise from lower demand for refined products over time due to policy initiatives, vulnerability to changing consumer preferences and technological shocks, especially in the transportation sector. Transition risks will result in a cascade of financial and economic impacts and these could include: write-offs; new competitive pressures; changes in consumer demand for example for more sustainable products; and costs of adaptation.

Liability and litigation risks So what are the litigation risks arising from climate change?