Newcastle Law School is contributing to public debate on climate change

7 July 2021

How is Newcastle Law School contributing to public debate on climate change?

Newcastle Law School & Legal Centre
Jacqui Svenson, Solicitor, Newcastle Law School & Legal Centre (Photo credit: University of Newcastle)

Given the scientific consensus that an urgent and significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is required to avoid catastrophic environmental and economic consequences, Newcastle Law School encourages its students, alumni, and staff to support efforts to promote immediate and sustained action to reduce emissions.

Here are some recent developments that illustrate how members of the Newcastle Law School community have been taking up this challenge.

Law student Kelsey Gray has assisted one of her teachers (Law School Senior Lecturer Dr Elena Aydos) on important research into the effectiveness of the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Elena and Kelsey’s paper was published late last month in the Carbon & Climate Law Review. It concluded that unfortunately the ERF is not only costly and unsustainable, it has also been ineffective in achieving meaningful emissions reductions.

As for alumni, law graduate Katrina Bullock (class of 2013) works as General Counsel for Greenpeace Australia. She has recently been in the media discussing the energy company AGL’s court action against Greenpeace, including this interview on Radio National on June 1. Greenpeace has been running a campaign accusing AGL of inappropriately promoting itself as pro-environment, when AGL is actually Australia’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. AGL alleged in court that Greenpeace’s campaign breached AGL’s intellectual property rights, but AGL’s court action was largely unsuccessful.

As for staff, Jacquie Svenson is one of the law school’s Clinical Teacher/Solicitors. As well as having a core practice in advice and representation for community groups and individuals opposing fossil fuel projects, Jacquie regularly gives media interviews on the issue and convenes a local community action group. On May 27, Jacquie co-authored an article in The Conversation about an important climate change case. Eight teenagers had taken the Minister for the Environment to court, seeking an injunction to stop her approving a proposed extension to a coal mine in northwest NSW. Although the injunction was not granted, the judge did find that when the Minister makes decisions that could lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions, she has a duty of care toward future generations. In the absence of a successful appeal or legislative change, this will likely have important implications for future ministerial decision-making and climate litigation.

Newcastle Law School Senior Lecturer Dr Tim Connor was interviewed by Cosmos magazine on May 28 about another important case: a Dutch court has ordered Shell to cut its carbon emissions to 45% of 2019 levels by 2030—again on the basis that Shell has a duty of care to minimize harm to future generations. This follows an increasing number of cases in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly Holland, where reductions in carbon emissions are being achieved through the courts.

And stayed tuned for Elena’s soon-to-be-published book Carbon Markets Around the Globe: Sustainability and Political Feasibility. The book is co-authored with Dr Sven Rudolph of Kyoto University and promises to make an important contribution to debates regarding how best to regulate carbon emissions.

Climate change poses a huge threat to current and future generations and we all need to do what we can to address it. Newcastle Law School is keen to play its part.

Studying at Newcastle Law School

The University of Newcastle Law School is committed to ensuring that their international students who commence the Juris Doctor/Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (JD/GDLP) program in 2021–22 will be able to progress their studies online on a full-time basis until it is possible to travel to Australia. For further information, please contact OzTREKK’s law admissions officer at

Program: Juris Doctor & Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice
Location: Newcastle (Callaghan)
Duration: 3 years
Semester intakes: February and July each year
Application deadline: There is no official application deadline. You are encouraged to apply at least three months prior to the program’s start date.

Start your application to the University of Newcastle Law School!


Learn more about studying at the Newcastle Law School. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Law Schools Admissions Officer at for more information.