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University announces ‘UK first’ law degree to tackle climate crisis

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(16 December 2022)

Staffordshire university has announced it is introducing the UK’s first law undergraduate degree designed to help tackle the climate crisis.

Keele University says its law with environmental sustainability degree has been developed to create legal professionals with a good knowledge of companies’ and governments’ environmental obligations, the legal mechanisms to hold these bodies accountable and a deep understanding of why these regulations must be enforced to help tackle climate change.

Professor Alison Brammer, head of the university’s school of law, said: ‘The climate crisis affects everyone, and we need legal professionals who understand sustainability and climate change to ensure that everyone – individuals, companies and public bodies – meet their obligations, and are empowered to use the law fully and innovatively to meet the challenge.’

Brammer told the Gazette that law firms will look to employ staff with an interest and expertise in environmental law.

‘Our students are all more aware of and committed to the environment than previous generations of lawyers, and we aim to send them out equipped to transform the legal industry, moving legal ethics and practice away from climate irresponsibility and towards a fairer and sustainable future. Students will also vote with their feet as prospective employees – turning away from employers they perceive to be enabling climate injustice through, for example, work with clients in the fossil fuel industry.’

Brammer added that many lawyers globally are involved in litigation to bring man-made climate change, and those who many see as responsible, before the courts.

‘Some lawyers already do excellent work advising their clients on climate risks or defending climate activists. It is an area of huge and emerging regulation with business opportunity as climate change becomes a more mainstream conversation and solutions can be threaded into all legal and contractual problems, such as through climate-aligned clauses in contracts,’ she said.

The work of the university’s legal advice clinic may also extend into environmental law, Brammer revealed.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)