The BAC Education Group was privileged to host the Right Hon. Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, as he presented an engaging public lecture titled, 'The Differing Responses of Law to the Challenges of Climate Change.'
Joining Lord Thomas later on the panel of discussion was Mr Raja Singham, Managing Director of Brickfields Asia College, and Mr Roger Chan Weng Keng, Chairperson of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Environmental and Climate Change Committee, who was moderater of the session.
The auditorium of Menara BAC was filled with esteemed guests including HE Charles Hay (British High Commissioner to Malaysia), Members of the Bar, staff, students, and members of the public, who were present to learn more about the topic at hand.
Climate change is one of the greatest problems affecting our society today, and there have been many attempts over the years to mitigate and reverse its effects. Brought about by the rise in global temperatures, due to increased emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases, its impact can be seen in the increased floodings, droughts, and forest fires experienced by various countries around the world, including Malaysia.
In 2015, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 21, 196 nations signed a legally-binding international treaty dubbed 'The Paris Agreement,' with the objective of limiting the rise of global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and to achieve net-zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2050.
The lecture focussed on how different legal systems around the world had met, or responded to the obligations placed upon them under the Paris Agreement 2015, and whether the involved nations have brought sufficient judicial accountability to their governments, and corporations who contribute to the negative effects of climate change; and if not, how so can this be improved?
As Lord Thomas explained, how a country responds to international obligations in regards to climate change, depends on their legislative structure, and how their courts operate. To illustrate his points, Lord Thomas presented five cases from the UK, France, Germany, Pakistan, and Australia, showcasing the multitude of approaches that can be taken to enforce accountability under different types of constitutions and court systems.
Despite the wide scope and depth of the topic, Lord Thomas managed to impart his knowledge and talking points with finesse and logical ease, delivering a well-structured and concise presentation.
After the conclusion of the lecture, the stage was opened up to fellow panelist, Mr Raja Singham, and the fireside chat began. Mr Roger Chan fired-off with a series of questions on a range of topics: from the current capabilities of courts in handling the litigation process of climate change cases, to possible solutions that the business and education sector can implement to address the impacts of climate change on future generations.
Our panelists delivered their answers with eloquence and competency, with Lord Thomas furthering the discussion through a legal lens, and Mr Raja Singham providing an in-depth perspective on tackling climate change from a commercial and academic standpoint.
Audience members were also invited to contribute to the discussion, with some excellent questions raised, including what ordinary citizens could do to communicate the significance of climate change and combat its consequences, the complexities of providing global financial aid to countries experiencing climate disasters, and how to address the limitations of treaties for future pieces of legislation, such as the upcoming Global Plastics Treaty of 2022.
The conclusion of the lecture and discussion left attendees with much food for thought on the topic of climate change, and how to ensure that governing bodies across the globe uphold their promises to stop its repercussions.
It was indeed an absolute honour to have had Lord Thomas speak on such an important subject at Menara BAC, and we look forward to an even brighter partnership with Lord Thomas and Aberystwyth University.