LAWENVIR 723 - Climate Change Law

Lecturer biography

Dr. Christina Voigt is an expert in international environmental law and Professor at the Department of Public and International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo, Norway.

Her teaching is primarily in international environmental law and public international law. She works in particular on legal issues of climate change, sustainability and the interface between environmental and trade law. In 2009, she was awarded the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) first Academy of Environmental Law Junior Scholarship Prize for her academic writing.

She is the author of “Sustainable Development as a Principle of International Law” (M. Nijhoff, 2009) and several edited volumes, such as “Sustainable Development in International and National Law” (with H.C. Bugge, Europa Law Publishing, 2008), “Rule of Law for Nature” (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and “Research Handbook on REDD+ and International Law” (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016) as well as numerous academic articles.

Since 2009, Professor Voigt has also been working for the Norwegian government as lead negotiator for REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) in the UN climate negotiation, and as principal legal advisor to the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and the Environment. She participated in the negotiations of the Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015.

Professor Voigt is currently spending a two-year sabbatical at the University of California Santa Barbara, Bren School of Environmental Sciences and Management.

Course outline

This course reviews the sources, principles, rules, structures and institutions of international climate change law and the new mechanisms and opportunities it creates for the promotion of a low-carbon, sustainable development.

This course is based on a detailed examination of the existing and evolving international climate change regime. Particular emphasis will be given to the Paris Agreement and its importance for multilateral climate-cooperation. The course will further analyse legal mechanisms and instruments, such as the global carbon market or REDD+, the legal obligations deriving from the climate regime and its relationship to human rights law, refugee law and international trade law.


The course covers the following:

  • Foundations and sources of international climate law
  • Principles of international climate law: such as common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, sustainable development, precautionary principle, polluter pays principle, progression, highest level of ambition, cost-effectiveness, sovereignty, jurisdiction
  • Implementation, enforcement and non-compliance procedures
  • Main issues related to the UN climate change regime (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement)
  • Main issues related to emissions trading and the global carbon market
  • The role of forests in mitigating climate change (with emphasis on REDD+)
  • New Zealand’s climate policy
  • The relationship between climate change and human rights
  • Climate change and human displacement: the role of refugee law
  • State responsibility for climate damages
  • The relationship between international trade rules and climate and renewable energy measures


Students who have successfully completed this subject should:

  • Have deepened their knowledge and understanding of climate law
  • Have explored issues of topical interest in the subject
  • Have engaged themselves with issues of principle and policy in climate law and governance


  • 100% research essay of 12,500 words
  • Due at 12 noon on 3 January 2019

Course details


Auckland Law School
Building 810, Level 3, Room 340
1-11 Short Street
Auckland 1010


Semester: Two
Study mode: Intensive 
Dates: 16-23 October 2018
Time: 9am-5pm
Value: 30 points

Contact details

Postgraduate Student Adviser
Law Student Centre
Level 2, 1-11 Short Street