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Thematic Issue: Conceptions of Ownership / General

Implications of Climate Change for Western Concepts of Ownership: Australian Case Study


Vanessa Johnston and Ben France-Hudson

This article considers what Australian responses to climate change may teach us about the concept of ownership. Through a close analysis of laws aimed at encouraging specific land uses in order to mitigate emissions, it argues that these laws support the increasingly uncontroversial claim that ownership of estates or interests in land places obligations and responsibilities on owners to exercise the resulting rights for the benefit of others. However, although land ownership is flexible enough to support the environmental objectives of these laws, their failure to adequately accommodate the practicalities of ownership, such as anticipating the position of successors in title, increases the risk of conflict between owners of estates and interests in land, and compromises the ability of both environmental and property law regimes to achieve their intended objectives.

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(2019) 42(3) UNSWLJ 869: