Media Alert: What's next for Australia after Copenhagen?

Date: 23/12/2009

Following the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference the University of Western Sydney has a range of environmental law experts available for media comment about the consequences for Australia, its trading partners and the world's indigenous peoples.

Professor Steven Freeland, from the School of Law, says Australia is one of the heaviest greenhouse gas polluters in the world on a per capita basis and we thus have a responsibility to take the lead not only through diplomacy but also by tangible action.

"In this regard, it is somewhat disheartening that the Government's stated position is now that Australia will do 'no more and no less' than other countries," says Professor Freeland.

"The coming months will see further diplomatic wrangling leading up to the clarification of our (and the other industrialised countries') emissions targets by 31 January, 2010, and if the past 2 weeks are anything to go by, we should not set our expectations very high."

Professor Michael Jeffery, QC from the School of Law, shares the disappointment about the lack of meaningful and binding outcomes from COP15 but he is now more concerned about the Federal Government's determination to push through the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

"There is little doubt in my mind that the proposed CPRS for Australia would not achieve what most Australians want, namely, an effective environmental outcome," says Professor Jeffery, who formerly held the title of Deputy Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commission on Environmental Law.

"Acceptance of the scheme will lock in for future generations to come the country's reliance on coal, natural gas and other heavy pollutants that have scientifically been proven to cause global warming."

Professor Donna Craig, from the UWS School of Law, is concerned about the rights of indigenous and vulnerable people as the world looks for international action to combat climate change after COP15.

"Despite the need to take immediate environmental action against climate change, it's the world's indigenous peoples that stand to lose the most from the effects of climate change as well as from mitigation and adaptation measures," says Professor Craig.

"As forests become higher valued resources, governments and corporations will drive out indigenous inhabitants that do not have access to land rights or tenure that other members of the community often have, leaving these important minority groups dispossessed."

For more information, please access a special Online Media Brief web page highlighting the views of UWS experts, including short videos, and details on UWS Climate Change research:



Senior Media Officer

Paul Grocott
02 9678 7083, 0406 429 304