Law Schools Must Teach Climate Change Law

Law schools have a clear and pressing obligation to contribute to efforts to address climate change and its consequences by ensuring climate change law occupies an appropriate place in the law curriculum. In this paper, we consider the obligation of universities, and law schools in particular, to respond appropriately to the climate crisis in their program offerings. We begin by reflecting on the obligation of law schools and universities to contribute to the public good, an obligation often downplayed given the contemporary emphasis upon the ‘job-readiness’ of graduates. We then focus on the obligation of universities and law schools to respond appropriately to climate change. We conclude by offering examples of ways in which law schools can incorporate climate change law into their law programs.

It Makes No Difference What We Do’: Climate Change and the Ethics of Collective Action

Opposition to collective action on climate change takes at least two forms. Some people deny that climate change is occurring or that it is due to human activity. Others maintain that, even if climate change is occurring, we have no duty to do anything about it, because our efforts would be futile. This article rebuts the latter line of argument. I argue that (1) everyone has a duty to do their share for the global common good, which includes doing one’s part to combat climate change; (2) the idea that taking action against climate change is futile should be treated with caution, because sometimes actions may seem to make no difference to climate change, when really they do; (3) in any event, the duty to do one’s share to combat climate change still applies, even if it is ultimately futile; (4) this is because not doing one’s share for the common good harms oneself, regardless of whether it makes any difference to the wider outcome.

First Nations, Human Rights and Climate Change

For any legal responses to climate change to be effective, they must be grounded in the perspectives, knowledge, and rights of First Nations people. The utility of international human rights instruments to protect First Nation interests in a climate change context will be explored. A holistic, multifaceted approach is necessary to equip younger generations with the skills to respond to challenges posed by climate change. Therefore, any structural changes in legal education must begin with the Indigenisation of legal education. Several examples will be offered to overcome any academic resistance to Indigenisation based on the already crowded law curriculum. Teaching strategies and exemplars from public law subjects will be provided to assist academics willing to embed Indigenous perspectives in their subject offerings.