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How Climate Change will Shape Environmental Law - conference roundup

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How Climate Change will Shape Environmental Law - conference roundup

Angus McLeod

Murdoch University School of Law and Adjunct Professor Glen McLeod hosted a one day conference about the impacts of climate change on environmental law. The conference was supported by the International Bar Association (IBA), the Perth Convention Bureau, the National Environmental Law Association (NELA), Glen McLeod Legal (GML) and Murdoch University. About 150 participants listened and engaged the speakers and discussion fora and speakers and audience together created a highly thoughtful and informative atmosphere. The topics of the conference pivoted around the broader climate change issue but looked at it from very different perspectives.

After a brief introduction by the Dean of Murdoch Law School, Professor Jürgen Bröhmer, The Hon. Justice Brian J Preston SC, Chief Judge, Land and Environment Court of NSW and currently the Co-Chair of the IBA Working Group on a Model Statute on Climate Change Claims and Remedies opened up and spoke about the objectives of such a model statute and on the challenges such a huge undertaking faces having to take account of the many different jurisdictions on the planet and the different legal cultures underpinning them.

The conference then focussed on Western Australia and on the core principle of sustainable development. Judge David Parry from District Court in WA and formerly Deputy President of the State Administrative Tribunal spoke about “Sustainable Development Principles Recognized and Applied in WA Planning Cases” and Glen McLeod, Adjunct Professor and Principal of Glen McLeod Legal, looked at the extent to which those principles apply in the context of the WA Environmental Protection Act 1986. This session was rounded off by Dr Tom Hatton, Chair of the Environmental Protection Authority of WA, who shed light on “The WA Environmental Protection Authority’s Climate Change Policy”.

In the afternoon, two former State Ministers gave their insights on very distinct matters. Cheryl Edwardes, (a former Minister for the Environment) spoke about “Climate Change and the Mining Industry in Western Australia” but actually gave an impressive account on how climate change policy is impacting on board rooms in mining and other industries and to what extent it is actually industry that is driving much of the climate change agenda because of the directors’ duties legal framework. Alannah MacTiernan explained that the drivers for the abolition of 'as of right' ministerial planning appeals were the volume and the absence of any transparency or adherence to natural justice. She expressed the view ministerial environmental appeals would benefit from a proper hearing process to build public confidence in decision making.

In future articles we will be providing further detailed content on the substantive points raised by the conference speakers. You can still access the full conference programme here