Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples
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Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples

The Search for Legal Remedies

Edited by Randall S. Abate and Elizabeth Ann Kronk

Indigenous peoples occupy a unique niche within the climate justice movement, as many indigenous communities live subsistence lifestyles that are severely disrupted by the effects of climate change. Additionally, in many parts of the world, domestic law is applied differently to indigenous peoples than it is to their non-indigenous peers, further complicating the quest for legal remedies. The contributors to this book bring a range of expert legal perspectives to this complex discussion, offering both a comprehensive explanation of climate change-related problems faced by indigenous communities and a breakdown of various real world attempts to devise workable legal solutions. Regions covered include North and South America (Brazil, Canada, the US and the Arctic), the Pacific Islands (Fiji, Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia), Australia and New Zealand, Asia (China and Nepal) and Africa (Kenya).
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Chapter 22: Climate change impacts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia

The Search for Legal Remedies

Megan Davis


This chapter will discuss the climate change impacts to indigenous peoples and then analyse how the rapidly changing legal framework addressing climate change in Australia will impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. While there has been significant scholarly writing addressing the impacts of climate change on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their environment in Australia, there is a paucity of analysis pertaining to the regulatory framework for climate change law that should regulate and provide recourse for these impacts. The Australian government recently enacted legislation that places a price on carbon and also enacted a new regulatory framework to address climate change including the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 (Cth), the Clean Energy Act 2011 (Cth) and the Clean Energy (Household Assistance Amendment) Act 2011 (Cth). All of these regulatory initiatives will impact indigenous peoples. Climate science observation confirms that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, especially the Torres Strait Islanders, are suffering the impacts of climate change with rising tides and changing weather patterns affecting the ability of peoples to discharge cultural obligations.

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