The University of Sydney Law School building.

University of Sydney Law School Climate Emergency Declaration

11 December 2019
Passed on Friday 6 December 2019
The Board of The University of Sydney Law School has voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency. The full declaration is as follows:

Moved by Professor Rosemary Lyster and seconded by Professor Tim Stephens.

Passed unanimously.

That The University of Sydney Law School declares a climate emergency following the finding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2018 that to avoid a more than 1.5°C rise in global warming, global emissions need to fall by around 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero by around 2050;

Acknowledging that global temperatures have already warmed by 1°C and heeding the clear and unequivocal declaration of 11,000 climate scientists on 5 November 2019 that they have a moral obligation to advise that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency;

Heeding the further warning of climate scientists, dated 28 November 2019, that 'tipping points' in the Earth's climate system may be reached between 1-2°C of warming;

Recognising the devastating environmental, social and economic impacts that climate change, including extreme weather events, is having, and will continue to have in Australia and globally;

Recognising that the United Nations Environment Program's Emissions Gap Report, dated 29 November 2019, states that countries' efforts under the Paris Agreement must increase fivefold to avoid a more than 1.5°C rise in global warming and threefold to avoid a more than 2°C rise;

Recognising the World Meteorological Organization’s finding of 3 December 2019 that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record level of 407.8 parts per million in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019;

Recognising that as legal academics we have a moral duty to stand up, speak out and express our concern, from a justice perspective, for all of the people, ecosystems and species across the world facing an existential threat;

Affirming that addressing and adapting to the climate emergency is critical to The University of Sydney Law School’s core functions of research, teaching and community engagement;

Recognising the indispensable role of law and legal institutions in Australia and globally in implementing the Paris Agreement and achieving its objectives;

Emphasising the vital contribution that law teachers and researchers will need to make in developing effective and just responses to the climate emergency;

Committing ourselves to educating students about the climate emergency and legal responses to it;

Supporting the development of The University of Sydney’s Sustainability Strategy, and efforts to achieve carbon neutrality across the University’s operations.

Consequently, The University of Sydney Law School calls on the Australian government, and all governments around the world, to scale up their emissions reduction commitments made under the Paris Agreement consistently with the science, implement these commitments in comprehensive climate legislation covering all emissions and sectors, and prepare their countries for the climate emergency.

All governments and non-governmental entities around the world, including corporations, are called on, in line with the Paris Agreement, to:

(a) rapidly phase out the use of fossil fuels and transition to a clean energy system;

(b) safeguard the dignity, wellbeing and economic future of workers and communities in carbon intensive sectors; and

(c) move swiftly to capture the economic opportunities and green jobs in a low carbon economy.