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An appalling state of appeals: The role of appeal rights in Western Australia's response to climate change

St Clair Burns, Isaac (2015) An appalling state of appeals: The role of appeal rights in Western Australia's response to climate change. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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It was almost 10 years ago that Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon described climate change as the 'defining challenge of our age'. His comments came at a time when international attention centred around the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

While important, the failure of Kyoto and the UNFCCC to engage key emitters such as China and the U.S has significantly hindered their perceived credibility. The target sets by these negotiations have also attracted criticism, a result of attempts to balance voluntary participation with unenforceable targets. Such criticisms of international efforts have begged the question as to the role of nation states in efforts to address climate change.

Since the time Ban Ki Moon made his comments, Australia has become the first country in the world to implement and repeal an emissions trading scheme. This is indicative of the on-going tensions between an economy dependent on fossil fuels and the growing public concerns with its government's inaction: a similar situation to many emissions intensive economies.

In the face of international and domestic shortcomings a new decentralized approach has been advocated. Unlike its predecessors, this approach does not present a single solution, but instead calls upon those concerned to effect change locally.

The result of such an approach can be seen in many forms, from litigation in the courts to adaptive approaches in local government. Key to these approaches is an underlying ethos, a movement which focuses not on a destination but direction. This direction is change.

As the world accepts the realities of our changing climate, so to must we adapt the manner in which we approach it. Western Australia is no exception. This paper will present the limited right to review government decisions as an existing issue which requires change in order to meet the challenges of climate change. Central to this argument is the need to engage local stakeholders, increase scrutiny of government decisions, develop climate jurisprudence and begin a response to climate change from the bottom up. It is in this way that climate change is the catalyst for reviewing appeal rights in Western Australia.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Supervisor(s): Goodie, Jo
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