Thought Leadership

Climate Change Review

• 01 April 2022 • 3 min read
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Maddocks Climate Change Review covers a range of developments in climate change and energy law and policy over the last 12 months.

One of the great issues of our time is the threat posed by climate change. As a leading Australian law firm Maddocks has contributed to the debate and the development of law and policy over a number of years. Realising that there is an overwhelming volume of information we have set out in this review to summarise recent developments in law and policy. We will publish further reviews as new developments progress.

"It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred."

IPCC Climate Change 2021, The Physical Science Basis

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published one of its most significant reports yet: ‘AR6 Climate Change 2021, The Physical Science Basis.’ Following another year of extreme weather events, the IPCC confirmed that anthropogenic climate change is unequivocal, and that widespread and rapid changes have already occurred in 4 out of 5 of the earth’s natural systems (the atmosphere, the cryosphere, the biosphere and the largest component of the hydrosphere - the oceans). The report makes clear that we will fail to meet the critical Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to well below 2°C, and preferably to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.

This report was released ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. The main purpose of the conference was to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. High hopes were held for what would be achieved in Glasgow, and it is fair to say that those aspirations were met with mixed success. While all parties to the Paris Agreement agreed the final text of the Glasgow Climate Pact Decision -/CMA.3 (Pact), some of the key provisions were watered down in order to reach agreement. Nevertheless, the Pact contains some important provisions and a number of significant pledges, declarations and statements by both state and non-state actors. For further details, see our report on Glasgow COP26: A summary of the key outcomes.

More recently, the IPCC published ‘AR6 Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’, which highlights the interdependence of climate, ecosystems and biodiversity, and human societies. Building on previous reports, the IPCC found that the rise in weather and climate extremes has led to some irreversible impacts as natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt.

Importantly, the report confirms that short-term actions that limit global warming to near 1.5 would reduce climate change losses and damages, but cannot eliminate them all.

In this publication, we consider some of the recent developments in Australian and, in particular, NSW climate change policy and jurisprudence, renewable energy projects and electricity market reform, which have been driven by the pressing need to reduce emissions. We also look at existing trends and likely future developments.

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Maddocks Climate Change Review covers a range of developments in climate change and energy law and policy over the last 12 months.

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