Under our 2022-2025 Strategic Plan, the UQ Pro Bono Centre is committed to environmental sustainability through legal work (Goal 5.1). Under this strategic goal, the Centre has established a student-led Climate Justice Initiative.


The aims of the Climate Justice Initiative are to:

  • Create a community of practice for law students passionate about climate justice;
  • Generate pro bono research on climate justice. This may involve research to support pro bono litigation, internal capacity building for the legal assistance sector and/or law reform;
  • Strengthen the Pro Bono Centre’s engagement on climate justice, both within UQ and externally with the broader legal profession.

How to join?

Students interested in joining the Climate Justice Initiative are invited to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) by email to 'probono@law.uq.edu.au'. The EOI should contain a one-page A4 statement outlining:

  1. Why the role appeals to you;
  2. Your eligibility to join; and,
  3. An idea that you would like to see the Climate Justice Initiative address.

Join the Climate Justice Initiative

Academic lead

Dr Justine Bell-James

Justine Bell-James is an Associate Professor at the TC Beirne School of Law with expertise in environmental and climate change law and climate change litigation. Justine's research focuses on legal mechanisms for protection of the coast under climate change, incorporating both human settlements and coastal ecosystems. She currently leads an ARC Discovery Project (2019-2022) considering how coastal wetland ecosystem services can be integrated into legal frameworks. Justine is also an expert on legal mechanisms to facilitate blue carbon projects in Australia and internationally, and she was involved with the development of a blue carbon methodology under Australia's Emissions Reduction Fund. Justine's work is highly interdisciplinary, and she is an affiliated researcher with UQ's Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science. Her recent collaborations and consultancies have involved colleagues from science, industry, NGOs, government and legal practice.

Justine also has expertise in climate change litigation, and her work on opportunities for litigation under Queensland's Human Rights Act 2019 has underpinned the first test case in this area.

Student members for Semester 2, 2022

Rory Brown, Benedict Findlay, Elisabeth Fritz-Joughin, Tazmyn Fuller, Mahelie Goonarantne, Jordan Koningham, Adrienne Soteriou, Ellie Taylor, Nieve Tobin, Ellena Welke, and Carmen Zhu.

What our students say

We feel the Climate Justice Initiative is a great opportunity to contribute to pro bono activities at UQ. It is easy as a student to feel helpless in our personal and professional lives as to how we can tackle climate change and its ongoing consequences.

We applied for the Initiative in the hope that we could channel our legal knowledge into a project that enables us to do something positive for the environment.

We have enjoyed collaborating with students that have similar interests and look forward to taking the opportunity to explore how the environment and law intersect.”

- Comment by Climate Justice Initiative students