Institute for Future


26 November 2019

Is the legal system motivated enough to adequately respond to irreplaceable natural wonders? Unprecedented fires, floods and heat have stressed the urgent need to take climate change seriously, and citizens are increasingly turning to the courts to fight for climate justice, or taking to the streets to demand government-led climate solutions.

While the law can play a significant role in regulating the causes and mitigating the effects of climate change, existing legal structures have thus far failed to achieve the degree of action that is necessary. In short, legal transformations will be needed to respond to the motivations and emotional reactions of a new generation looking to stabilise the climate and attend to the impacts of a warming world.

In this seminar, we will hear from leading legal and philosophical thinkers on the capacity for climate activism and eco-emotional awareness to act as catalysts for the transformative legal changes needed to confront the climate crisis. Dr Nicole Rogers, who has recently written on the intersections of climate narratives in law, literature and activism, will explore how activist litigants are redefining legal doctrines to challenge normative frameworks. In particular, she will focus on the use of the extraordinary emergency defence in climate activist trials. She will explore the parameters of the defence, the political context in which it is invoked, and the vexed question of what constitutes reasonable conduct on the part of individuals in the absence of an effective, concerted, global response to the climate emergency.
Professor Glenn Albrecht, who developed the concept of ‘solastalgia’ to express the loss of sense of place experienced by landscape change, will explore the need for a broad conceptualisation of eco-emotions that can be employed to understand and articulate the impacts of climate change in the politico-legal realm. In his recent book Earth Emotions, Glenn presents the case that within the current period of the Earth, known as the Anthropocene, our emotions are turning negative; with fear, grief, anxiety and distress becoming the norm. He created the concept of solastalgia to give clearer expression to this epidemic of distress about the emerging negative state of the Earth. In opposing this solastalgic, ecocidal direction, Glenn has created a new meme, the Symbiocene, an era to be based on the re-connection of humans with the rest of life. Within the Symbiocene, positive Earth emotions will once again be able to thrive and they will be protected by sumbiocentric jurisprudence. 
The seminar will be chaired by Professor Christine Parker from Melbourne Law School. Christine uses a socio legal regulatory studies approach to critically examine the health, sustainability and justice challenges facing the food system, with a particular focus on animal agriculture. She has developed (with Professor Fiona Haines) the concept of ‘ecological regulation’ which asks how regulatory scholarship can better respond to the ecological crisis now facing our world and our governance systems alongside social and economic crises. With her partner Simon Kerr, she has helped develop and perform a live multi-media eco-music concert, Music for a Warming World, on our individual, social and political responses to climate change.

Guest Speakers

Dr Nicole Rogers - Southern Cross University
Professor Glenn Albrecht - The University of Sydney
Professor Christine Parker - The University of Melbourne

Register -



26 November 2019 - 26 November 2019
12.00pm: arrival (lunch and refreshments served) / 12.30pm to 2.00pm: seminar
QUT Gardens Point Campus
OJW, Level 12, S Block
QUT, Faculty of Law
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Institute for Future Environments

  • Phone: 3138 9500
  • Int. phone: +61 7 3138 9500
  • Fax: +61 7 3138 4438
  • Level 6, P Block
    Gardens Point
    2 George St
    Brisbane QLD 4000
  • Postal address:
    Institute for Future Environments
    GPO Box 2434
    Brisbane QLD 4001