Law and litigation

Law and regulation at multiple levels of governance (local, state, national, transnational, international) play a central role in addressing the climate crisis. Climate law is a relatively recent legal discipline that draws on, and has close intersections with, other areas of law and regulation, such as international law, environmental law, corporate and financial law, law of the sea and human rights law.

Climate law may shape the roles and responsibilities of governments and other actors, such as companies, to:

  • Address climate change
  • Put in place the framework for response measures on mitigation and adaptation
  • Provide for planning and coordination of activities
  • Create regimes of liability for harm.

Climate litigation (disputes on climate change brought to the courts for resolution) have emerged as a major site for climate governance and law-making in countries around the world and particularly in Australia, which has the second-highest number of climate cases globally. Law and litigation are often seen as a central tool in the fight for climate justice for vulnerable communities by providing for (the possibility of) remedies and compensation for climate-related harms.

Program Lead

Professor Jacqueline Peel, Professor of Law, Melbourne Law School; Director of Melbourne Climate Futures

Early career researcher co-lead

Ms Rebekkah Markey-Towler, Research Fellow, Melbourne Climate Futures

Grants and Resources

Australian Climate Change Litigation database

ARC DP22 project on ‘Advancing Investor Action on Energy Transition’

Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law (CREEL), Melbourne Law School