Available in 2021
Course code



10 units


6000 level

Course handbook


This course will provide students with advanced and specialized knowledge of the evolution and architecture of the international climate regime, including the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the 2009 Copenhagen Accord and the 2015 Paris Agreement. Special attention will be paid to the challenges and opportunities for climate litigation in post-Paris Agreement era. The course will also critically assess environmental economics theory and its application to climate change policy. A special focus will be put on the use of market-based policy instruments such as environmental taxes and emissions trading. Based on a law and economics approach, students will examine and evaluate differing approaches to domestic implementations of international climate policy obligations through case studies on carbon pricing in Australia, the EU, North America and Japan. Students will also be exposed to a range of controversial debates, reflecting the highly politicised nature of international and domestic climate change law, and learn about the political barriers to sustainable climate policy.

Availability2021 Course Timetables


  • Trimester 3 - 2021

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Effectively communicate the legal principles, rules and institutions of the international climate change regime.

2. Critically interpret the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

3. Evaluate market-based climate policy instruments based on sustainability criteria.

4. Identify and report on the political barriers to sustainable carbon markets.

5. Work individually and as an integral part of a `virtual' team.


The topics in this course include:

1. Introduction to Climate Change Science.

2. Evolution and architecture of the International Climate Change Regime.

3. The Paris Agreement.

4.  Climate Change Litigation.

5.  How Markets Work and Fail: The Theory of Externalities.

6.  How Prices can Save the Environment: The Standard-Price-Approach.

7.  How to Design Sustainable Carbon Markets.

8.  Why Politics Resist Markets: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets.

9.  Case Study: Market-based Climate Policy in Australia.

10. Case Study: Market-based Climate Policy in the EU.

11. Case Study: Market-based Climate Policy in North America.

12. Case Study: Market-based Climate Policy in Japan.

Assumed knowledge


Assessment items

Written Assignment: Case study

Written Assignment: Policy Brief

Contact hours


Self-Directed Learning

Online 36 hour(s) per Term Full Term

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.