Climate change and the city

Date & time
6–7.30pm Tuesday 17 February 2015
Fellows Road Law Theatre 1 (formerly known as Sparke Helmore Theatre), ANU College of Law, Building 5, Fellows Road, The Australian National University
Elisabeth Costa and Dr Helmut Philipp Aust MLE


For interstate visitors, we offer suggestions for accommodation near ANU.


The world is rapidly urbanising and more and more people live in cities. At the same time, cities and towns all over the world are beginning to assert themselves as relevant international actors. This is particularly true in the climate change context, where cities are responsible for more than 70 % of global greenhouse gas emissions and are beginning to cooperate in international fora and take steps at the municipal level to regulate emissions. This seminar takes a closer look at this issue, both from a policy perspective and from the angle of international law. Should cities engage in climate change policy in the absence of binding international and domestic regulation on the matter? Are cities on the verge of becoming recognised actors in international law?

Elisabeth Costa has been involved in Australia’s climate change and clean energy policy, as well as considering climate policy from an international perspective as a fellow at the United Nations Environment Programme and Center for International Environmental Law in Washington D.C. In 2013 Elisabeth completed her Master of Laws at Harvard Law School where her research focused on whether it can be rational, and indeed beneficial, for cities to implement climate policies in the absence of national and international action. 

Dr Helmut Philipp Aust is a Senior Research Fellow at Humboldt University Berlin, Faculty of Law and currently a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of International Law and the Humanities, Melbourne Law School. Previously he taught at the University of Munich and was a Visiting Fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge. He is the author of Complicity and the Law of State Responsibility (CUP, 2011) and co-editor of The Interpretation of International Law by Domestic Courts (OUP, 2015, forthcoming, with Georg Nolte). While in Melbourne, he is working on his post-doc research project The Law of Global Cities.

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