Law, Climate Emergency and the Australian Megafires

Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review


This book addresses the ways in which the Black Summer megafires influenced the development of climate narratives throughout 2020. It analyses the global pandemic, and its ensuing restrictions, as a countervailing force in the production of such narratives.

Lives and properties were lost in the spring and summer of 2019 and 2020, when catastrophic bushfires burnt through millions of hectares of mainland Australia. Nearly 3 billion native animals died. And for millions of Australians, and others worldwide, it was through the Australian megafires that the global climate emergency became tangible and concrete, no longer a comfortably deferred, albeit problematic abstraction which could be consigned to future generations to deal with. This book explores the legal and other implications of new understandings of climate emergency arising from the fires, and the emergence of a hierarchy of emergencies as the pandemic came to dominate global and domestic political discourses. It examines narratives of culpability, and legal avenues for seeking retribution from government and big fossil fuel emitters. It also considers the impact of the fires on the burgeoning phenomenon of climate activism, particularly in Australia, and the ways in which pandemic restrictions curtailed such activism. Finally, the book reflects on the fires through the lenses offered by climate fiction, and apocalyptic fiction more generally, in order to consider how these shape, and might shape, our responses to them.

This important and timely book will appeal to environmental lawyers and socio-legal theorists; as well as other scholars and activists with interests in climate change and its impact. It is recommended for anyone concerned about current and future climate disasters, and the shortcomings in legal, political and popular responses to the climate crisis. 
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages140
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-22116-6
ISBN (Print)978-0-367-62356-2
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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