Environmental Law Australia

The role of government policy and law in environmental management


This is a recording of a lecture presented on 21 March 2024 at The University of Queensland, Australia, on the role of law and policy in environmental management.

The lecture was presented in a postgraduate course, ENVM7001 (Foundations of Environmental Studies), which is a core course in the Master of Environmental Management program.

It tells three stories:

  • a success story of protecting the ozone layer and recent problems in China;
  • a story of the corrosive effect of corruption in many countries; and
  • 30 years of global and Australian climate policy failure.

Reflection on lecture

I really liked how engaged this class was. It was a fun lecture to present, right from the start where my icebreaker discussing a photo of children playing on a beach in the covering slide got lots of people involved.

Sometimes students in feedback tell me I shouldn’t be so political but my response to that is: this is a university course and students at university are adults and should be critical thinkers. They can (or should) distinguish between good ideas and bad ones, so being challenged to think critically and being exposed to political views from different lecturers are part of a good university education. I expect students to reject my ideas if they don’t think they are sound or well supported.

Also, my view is that environmental law and policy are so infected and affected by politics, that discussing them without speaking about politics would be a false view of reality. It would be like talking about medicine without mentioning disease. I want to explain environmental law in reality, not in a utopian fiction of a world without politics, power or money.

Dr Chris McGrath

Adjunct Associate Professor, School of the Environment

The University of Queensland