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Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law

Research and teaching in climate and environmental law

Discover one of Australia’s leading centres for environmental law and climate change expertise.

The Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law is world renowned for interdisciplinary research, education and public engagement in these areas of law.

Our researchers have outstanding international and domestic reputations, as well as strong connections with eminent scholars at international institutions. The centre also has enduring links with leading members of the legal profession, including the judiciary, who contribute to the teaching and seminar programs and, at times, research activities.

Our experts

Kate Owens

Dr Kate Owens, Director

Visit Dr Kate Owens' academic profile.

Laura Schuijers

Dr Laura Schuijers, Deputy Director

Visit Dr Laura Schuijers' academic profile.

Rosemary Lyster

Professor Rosemary Lyster,
Member, Leader of the discipline

Visit Professor Lyster's academic profile.

Tim Stephens

Professor Tim Stephens, Member

Visit Professor Tim Stephens' academic profile.

Nicole Graham

Professor Nicole Graham, Member

Visit Professor Nicole Graham's academic profile.

Each year, the centre hosts an array of eminent international scholars who teach, present seminar/conference papers and undertake research in the area of climate and environmental law. The centre also conducts and sponsors international and domestic conferences, seminars, workshops, lectures and other similar activities.

Members of the centre have established wide networks of relationships with researchers around the world, including within Columbia Law School, Berkeley Law School, Tilburg Law School, Maastricht Law School, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, University of Hawaii at Manoa and the National University of Singapore.

The centre attracts and supervises to completion high-quality postgraduate students, and develops innovative units of study in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

Centre members

Sydney Law School affiliates (2022)

Sessional lecturers (2022)

A key aspect of the centre’s governance structure is the Advisory Board, which comprises members appointed by the Dean on the advice of the Executive Committee. The Advisory Board consists of individuals with a strong interest in environmental law, including judges, practitioners, scholars, representatives of industry and members of the wider community who have made an important contribution to the field, both in Australia and overseas. The Chair of the Advisory Board is the centre director. The board meets at least once every year in order to advise the co-directors and Sydney Law School on all aspects of the activities of the centre.

The Advisory Board currently comprises the following members:

Financial responsibility

Financial responsibility for the centre’s activities is vested in the Dean. The centre’s funds are held in an account maintained by Sydney Law School. The Dean exercises financial responsibility by approving budgets for the centre, prepared by the Director in consultation with the Executive Committee, and by exercising broad oversight of budgetary performance. Day-to-day administration of finances is entrusted to the co-directors in consultation with the Executive Committee.

About the Internship Program

ACCEL is committed to supporting the next generation of environmental law scholars and practitioners. Our Internship Program provides opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students to gain work experience in environmental law research and policy. Interns participate in a broad range of ACCEL’S activities related to environmental and climate law and justice, and work closely with the Centre’s academic staff members on real-world projects.

  • Current enrolled undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Sydney are eligible to apply.
  • Internship positions will be offered during Semester 1 (7 March to 27 May) and Semester 2 (8 August to 4 November) in 2022.
  • From Semester 2, 2022 ACCEL's internship intakes are limited to five interns per semester, and each intern will be awarded $1000 in acknowledgment of their work for the program.
  • Refer to the ACCEL Internships in Canvas for more information and how to apply.
  • Please send queries about the 2022 program to:

2022 ACCEL Interns

The Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law (ACCEL) congratulates our extraordinary interns who completed the program in semesters 1 and 2 this year.

These talented students honed their skills across an array of projects and collectively, they successfully coordinated the inaugural ACCEL NextGen Series.

Semester 1 students successfully produced Sharma: The future of climate litigation in Australia (recording of the event) and Semester 2 students successfully produced Realism in the Corporate Sphere – Greenwashing and Net Zero.

Semester 1 interns

  • Soo Choi, LLB (Electricity resilience)
  • Chenshu Deng, LLM (Regulating water markets)
  • Byron Dexter, JD (Forests and biodiversity)
  • Sunqi Li, JD (Circular economies Australia)
  • Elizabeth Newton, LLB (Climate change curriculum)
  • Dhanushka Rajaratnam, MEL (Water justice and water markets)
  • Tilly Scott, JD (Pacific methodologies)
  • Rowena Young, LLB (Corporate liability and the environment).

Semester 2 interns

  • Sophie Hawkins-Adams
  • Zoe Patterson Ross
  • Shivam Bose
  • Ingrid Jones

We look forward to continuing the ACCEL Internship Program in 2023.

2022 events

Sharma: The future of climate litigaton in Australia

On 13 May 2022 ACCEL launched its inaugural ACCEL NextGen Series as part of the Centre’s 2022 Internship Program. Eight Semester 1 interns coordinated the first event in the Series. Interns chose the topic and designed the format; they also invited speakers, and Chaired the event. The event received the largest audience for ACCEL events in the last year, with approximately 170/340 attending online.  

A recording of the event can be found here

2021 events

2021 ACCEL Distinguished Speaker Address: Can climate litigation save the planet? The role of climate attribution science

9 December 2021

Speakers: Dr Petra Minnerop, Durham University and Dr Friederike Otto, University of Oxford and Global Climate Science Programme

The ACCEL Environmental Law Year in Review Conference

19 November 2021

Climate extremes on the road to Glasgow

18 October 2021

2020 events

Climate change and water governance in an era of hi-tech irrigation

19 - 20 February 2020

This two-day invitation-only workshop, jointly sponsored by the Sydney Environment Institute, the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law, and the Environmental Defenders Office, will bring together international and domestic experts from a range of disciplines to discuss the implications of irrigation efficiency measures in the context of water scarcity and climate change, the key challenges posed by irrigation efficiency for water governance, climate adaptation and sustainability, and best practices in terms of governance responses. The workshop will provide an important opportunity to discuss the governance frameworks required to balance growing consumptive needs, the need to protect associated ecosystems, improved irrigation technologies and our finite and often overallocated water resources.

The Bushfire Disaster and Australia’s Biodiversity: Can It Recover?

4 February 2020

Extinction Rebellion: why and what does law have to do with it?

25 September 2019

2019 ACCEL Distinguished Speaker Address: Power Blackouts and Climate Justice

7 August 2019

Speakers: Professor Daniel Farber, University of California and Professor Robert M. Cerchick, Loyola University New Orleans

Disaster in the Murray-Darling Basin: explanations and consequences

9 May 2019

The event was also broadcast unedited and in full on Sky News Extra Ch 604 three times on Friday, 10 May at 1.30 pm, 6.17 pm and 9.55 pm. We are pleased that these broadcasts will reach a broader audience and enhance the impact of the Murray-Darling disaster.

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