Working on law reform activities. 

As part of Wotton + Kearney (W+K) ’s commitment to demonstrating environmental leadership, the firm has provided legal research and drafting support to Climate Justice Programme (CJP), an organisation which brings together lawyers and academics for the purpose of developing strategic initiatives to address climate change. 

One of W+K’s lawyers, Johanna Lawlor, assisted CJP with the preparation of its submission to the Australian Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, which was due on 4 May 2020. The work focused on the section in relation to the use of emergency powers, explaining how climate change poses a national emergency. The submission highlights increased bushfire risk as one manifestation of the climate emergency and the need for emergency action to address climate change, while also ensuring human rights safeguards. With the limited human rights protections that currently exist in Australia, the submission suggests that a national bill or charter of human rights would be appropriate along with safeguards integrated into any emergency legislation. In preparing this draft, the W+K lawyer identified relevant emergency laws at both Commonwealth and state levels and how this may have reduced the efficiency of the government response to the bushfire emergency.

The assistance W+K provided to CJP’s submission drew on earlier research conducted by another W+K lawyer to assist CJP with drafting an article on the impact of climate emergency on human rights and the human rights frameworks needed to address identified risks, using case studies from both a domestic and international perspective.

“This legal work is incredibly important – climate change increasingly poses one of the biggest threats to our planet. It is a collective endeavour and collective accountability which should be the forefront of all companies and firms.” – Johanna Lawlor, Associate