LAWS0002 Climate Change, Law and Politics


Course LAWS0002
Climate Change, Law and Politics







Class Date 15, 16, 17, 19, 22, 23 July 2019 
(24 and 25 July 2019 are reserved for make-up class in case there is any cancellation of classes due to bad weather or other unexpected factors.)
Class Time 1:00pm – 3:30pm
Class Location WMY 303 (Interactive) | CUHK Map
(Wu Ho Man Yuen Building – WMY)
Teacher Prof. Benoit MAYER
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Medium of Instruction English
Course Description What is climate change, how does it affect us, and what can we do about it? This module provides an overview of a looming civilizational crisis and possible responses to it. It follows an interdisciplinary perspective, involving in particular climate science, economics, ethics, psychology, laws, and politics. It involves active learning methods such as simulations of negotiations and/or litigation.
The following is subject to adjustments depending on teaching time and on the size of the class.


Lecture themes

Tutorial exercises


  • Climate change
  • Climate law
  • The experience of Hong Kong and China
  • Quiz: What do you know about climate change
  • Debate: How to tackle climate change?


  • Quiz 1 (on session 1)
  • Customary international law
  • Analysis of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
  • Debate: What does customary international law mean to climate change?
  • Presentation of the moot court exercise (session 6)


  • From Rio to Paris: International climate agreements on climate change mitigation
  • Analysis of the interests of key players
  • Debate: What does “common but differentiated responsibilities” mean?


  • Quiz 2 (on sessions 2-3)
  • Implementing climate change mitigation: flexibility, support and geoengineering
  • Analysis of the pros and cons of carbon trading.
  • Debate: Is carbon capture and storage the solution to climate change?


  • Adaptation and loss and damage
  • Litigation
  • Analysis of adaptation action in different parts of the world
  • Analysis of selected judgments


  • Quiz 3 (on sessions 4 and 5)
  • Revisions
  • Moot court
  • Debate on individual roles and responsibilities


Learning Outcomes After completing this course, students should be able to:

  • better understanding of climate change and efforts to address it
  • understanding of law as a social construct and a political compromise
  • analytical and communication skills
  • independent learning skills
Recommended Reading(s) / Reference(s) A booklet of selected documents will be distributed to the class.

Students who wish to go further are invited to consult: Benoit Mayer, The International Law on Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Course Assessment In-class participation* (30%)
Quiz 1 (10%)
Quiz 2 (10%)
Quiz 3 (20%)
In-group presentation (30%)**Based on participation by students during the class. To facilitate follow-up, students will be seated according to a class map and notes will be taken after each session. Selected names of students will be written on the white board from session 3 onwards and removed only after they participated to in-class discussions.