Legal Values: International Environmental Law

Since the 1972 Stockholm Conference, there has been a steady rise in the sources of international  environmental law with a significant number of treaties complemented by customary international law,  and decisions of international adjudicative bodies. These sources present an intricate network of rules,  principles and institutional arrangements in response to the ever-changing field of environmental  problems with regional and global dimensions such as environment and human rights, climate change,  transboundary pollution, regulation of hazardous chemicals and waste, and sustainable development.  This course will introduce students to the organizing principles of international environmental law  including its foundational rules and complex institutional framework, with an emphasis on key actors,  opposing interests, and competing ideas. All class discussions will involve doctrinal and critical  engagements. We will also incorporate guest lectures and student presentations, and students are  expected to participate actively in all class discussions. Students are expected to demonstrate an in- depth understanding of the history of the discipline; its general principles; compliance and enforcement  mechanisms; interaction between international environmental law and domestic law; current debates  and critical perspectives within the discipline; and international environmental adjudication by the end  of the course.

Legal Values: Law in the Time of Catastrophe

COVID-19 is the first truly global pandemic of the 21st century. Governments, climate scientists, epidemiologists, and public health researchers have warned that the viral outbreak will affect the world in myriad unforeseen ways and similar outbreaks are likely to recur. All the while that we are overwhelmed by this historical malady, we must not forget the increasing frequency and intensity with which Canada and countries around the world have been struck by forest fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, food scarcity, and historic refugee flows out of conflict and disaster-ridden landscapes. These events are likely to worsen in the coming decades.

Climate change and disasters as umbrella categories are fundamentally problems of governance. But environmental law courses traditionally struggle to make room for them. This course aims to introduce upper year law students to the relationship between law and a range of future-facing global environmental crises that are often overlooked in law school curricula. The readings are designed to: (i) bring law students up to date on social science and humanities research surrounding disasters; and (ii) critically examine a variety of international legal regimes that currently attend to specific kinds of disasters such as pandemics and food scarcity.

As possible, we will pause to examine how these issues are being addressed within Canada, both in terms of the Canadian constitutional framework as well as the concerns of indigenous communities. Like any survey, this course is designed to introduce students to a wide swathe of knowledge about a new subject. As such, there are limits to how deeply we can explore the subject-matter for each week. However, students are encouraged to choose research projects that will allow them to study any of the areas explored in the course, or other related areas, in greater depth.

The seminar will prepare students to serve as law and policy experts on significant national and international environmental concerns that are going to be in high demand in the years to come. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

·understand the socio-scientific, political, and historical context of climate change and other ‘catastrophes’ broadly stated;
·apply these insights and techniques to evaluate the quality and impact of international (and domestic) legal regimes;
·critically analyze the content of official statements, news reports, and popular narratives about disasters and emergency regulation

Sample list of topics (subject to change)
·        Climate, climate change, and disasters (as global, legal and non-legal contexts)
·        Famine and food security
·        Pandemics and global public health
·        Armed conflict and environmental Degradation
·        Small islands and sea level rise
·        Climate refugees and internally displaced persons

Natural Resources Law

This course explores key areas of the law and policy relating to natural resources management, each year will include a different combination of minerals, land use, biodiversity, conservation, water, fisheries and forestry. This includes examination of the common law principles, legislation and administrative controls governing natural resource management, and Indigenous natural resource jurisdiction and governance. The course will consider examples within Canada, with an emphasis on Ontario. Some comparative international law and policy examples will be provided. The course is a praxicum course. Assignments and final research projects will be developed with community partners to support their work on current issues in Natural Resource Law in Canada.

Environmental Law

This course is an introduction to the law of environmental protection in Canada. Major issues and contemporary developments in environmental law are brought to life via case-study scenarios drawn from news stories and real-world environmental controversies and guest speakers. Topics typically include common law environmental litigation (e.g. toxic torts, class actions, SLAPP suits); jurisdiction to regulate (e.g. federal division of powers, local government powers, aboriginal self-government); command regulation and regulatory innovations; public participation and environmental rights (e.g. Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights, community right to know laws); environmental compliance and enforcement (e.g. environmental sentencing, citizen enforcement); international law and the environment (e.g. multilateral environmental agreements, international trade and investment law); judicial review of environmental decision-making (e.g. standard of review, public interest standing); economic policy instruments (e.g. carbon taxes and trading); federal toxic substances regulation; environmental impact assessment; endangered species protection; and parks and protected areas. We take up major federal environmental statutes including the Fisheries Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Species at Risk Act, as well as the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights. Throughout the course, we use cross-cutting issues like climate change, sustainability, and disasters to understand complex legal and policy problems.

The course is evaluated based on in-class participation, a mid-term assignment, and a final exam. For the mid-term  assignment, students work in groups to present an in-class client briefing, or submit a public comment to a government agency on a real-life proposed environmental act, policy, or regulation that is posted for comment on the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights registry or the federal environmental registry.  
The course is integrated with the Faculty of Environment & Urban Change graduate course ENVS 6164 and typically includes students from the MES and MBA programs, whose presence greatly enriches the learning experience.

 Note: The instructor of this course/ seminar has indicated a preference or willingness to conduct optional in-person meetings for students. All in-person meetings will be optional for students until the general return to in-person instruction that is expected for the winter 2022 term. Any in-person meetings in the fall 2021 term that cover examinable course content will be accompanied by a remote participation option, such as a separate remote class, live dual delivery, and/ or a recording of the class, at the instructor’s discretion. More information will follow from the instructor after students have enrolled; please also note that there is no guarantee of in-person instruction in any course or seminar.