JJUA55120U Climate Change and the Law

Volume 2024/2025

Master's degree in Law

MSc Programme in Climate Change


Climate change has emerged as one of the major concerns influencing policy making and the law at the global, regional and national level. The course is divided into three parts.


The first part of the course will provide an introduction to International Law and EU Law, including the principles of international environmental law of importance to climate change law and the sustainable development goals. Moreover, the international climate change regime will be outlined and discussed, which includes the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and the Doha Amendment. Very importantly, the Paris Agreement is examined in depth, paying attention to the adaptation, mitigation (including the issue of carbon markets) and financial aspects that need to be developed and implemented in the forthcoming years. Thus, students will in addition to the legal framework
get familiarised with negotiations and outcomes of post 2012 and post 2020 commitments.


The second part of the course will focus on the EU regime on climate change. It will mainly cover the EU competences and international commitments regarding climate change, the legislation on greenhouse gases and its relationship with other environmental legislation. In particular, this part will focus on the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) and the regulation of non- ETS sectors, including climate-related case law. As the cornerstone of the EU climate policy, a significant efforts will be put into getting the student acquaintance with the EU ETS as a model for other jurisdictions.


The third part will focus on sectoral aspects of climate change and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in venues outside the climate regime and the interaction with it. This includes the case of international aviation and maritime transport where specifically a comprehensive international legal framework for controlling maritime greenhouse gas emissions has proven a
challenging task whereas several regulatory initiatives have been taken with respect to reducing emissions from the aviation sector. Crucially, this third part will also deal with the energy sector as the major contributor to climate change. Addressing climate change is very much a matter of addressing energy use as the use of fossil fuels is the dominant anthropogenic cause of global warming. The focus of the third part will be the legal challenges caused by the need to substitute fossil fuels by various alternatives (renewables, biofuels, nuclear, new forms of carbon fuels and fusion and clean coal technologies), the need for efficiency and energy savings, and the potential to render traditional carbon based consumption ‘clean’ by extracting the CO2 for storage.


The course builds upon the MA education by applying legal methodology within the specialised area of climate change adaptation and mitigation that includes both international and EU law aspects. This means that the students are requested to understand, identify, analyze and solve legal issues and questions in a complex political and legal setting that involves actors and regulatory frameworks at many levels.

The course does not require that students have followed any specific courses beforehand but it is advantagerous to have some knowledge of international law, international environmental law and EU law.

Learning Outcome

The student will be able to:

1. describe and understand the natural greenhouse effect and the way various human activities are increasing emissions of the natural greenhouse gases;

2. demonstrate knowledge of the legal and social perspectives of the climate change problem and the concept of sustainable development;

3. explain the ways and strategies that may come into play to combat climate change;

4. understand the legal regime for climate change at both the international and EU levels and the allocation of rights and obligations between the state parties;

5. identify the relevant legal sources in international and EU law on climate change related matters;

6. analyze and solve complex legal questions within climate change law;

7. analyse the various new legal mechanism to reduce GHG emissions and promote mitigation measures within aviation, shipping, green energy and energy conservation, and the relationship between them;

8. provide a solid argumentation for the choice between different ways to adapt to and mitigate climate change;

9. advice on the application of new legal instruments including market based and “command and control” instruments in climate change law;

10. Elaborate arguments on the benefits and disadvantages of different policy and legal measures; and

11. understand the dynamic and the complex interface between climate and energy related legislation in international and EU law.

A Collection of book chapters, articles and extracts of report will be made available in a digital form.
Primary legal material (Conventions, legislation and case law will be made available on the Absalon web-page.


It is illegal to share digital textbooks with each other without permission from the copyright holder.


The course does not require that students have followed any specific courses beforehand but it is advantagerous to have some knowledge of International Law, International Environmental Law and EU Law.
Lecturing by the teacher, analysis and presentation of cases and law by the students, group work, problem solving, relevant video spots from You Tube; mock exam
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Total
  • 412,5
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
Oral exam without preparation 20 minutes

Read about the descriptions of the individual exam forms, including formal requirements, scope and deadlines in the exam catalogue

Read about practical exam conditions at KUnet

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

Week 51 - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday


Week 5 - wednesday, Thursday, Friday