Blue Carbon and the Law

February 2016December 2026
The University of Queensland

‘Blue carbon’ refers to the carbon sequestered in coastal ecosystems like mangroves and saltmarsh. Active management and restoration of these ecosystems can increase their health, coverage and extent, thereby increasing their capacity to store carbon dioxide. For this reason, there has been significant interest in these ecosystems as a way to achieve emissions reduction targets in Australia and internationally.

Coastal wetlands occupy the intertidal zone, which is often the intersection of land tenure regimes, raising complex legal issues. Justine’s research has examined these issues in detail and her analysis has underpinned the Blue Carbon Methodology released by the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Regulator in January 2022.

Justine continues to work with collaborators from across Australia and internationally, focussing on how to remove legal and policy barriers to widescale coastal ecosystem restoration.

Project outcomes

Macreadie, Peter I.Robertson, Alistar I.Spinks, BernadetteAdams, Matthew P.Atchison, Jennifer M.Bell-James, JustineBryan, Brett A.Chu, LongFilbee-Dexter, KarenDrake, LaurenDuarte, Carlos M.Friess, Daniel A.Gonzalez, FelipeGrafton, R. QuentinHelmstedt, Kate J.Kaebernick, MelanieKelleway, JeffreyKendrick, Gary A.Kennedy, HilaryLovelock, Catherine E.Megonigal, J. PatrickMaher, Damien T.Pidgeon, EmilyRogers, Abbie A.Sturgiss, RobTrevathan-Tackett, Stacey M.Wartman, MelissaWilson, Kerrie A. and Rogers, Kerrylee (2022).Operationalizing marketable blue carbon. One Earth, 5 (5), 485-492. doi: 10.1016/j.oneear.2022.04.005

Bell-James, Justine and Lovelock, Catherine E (2019).Legal barriers and enablers for reintroducing tides: An Australian case study in reconverting ponded pasture for climate change mitigation. Land Use Policy, 88 104192, 104192. doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2019.104192

Justine Bell-James and Catherine E. Lovelock (2019).Tidal boundaries and climate change mitigation – the curious case of ponded pastures. Australian Property Law Journal, 27 (2), 114-133.

Bell-James, Justine (2018).'Blue carbon' and the need to integrate mitigation, adaptation and conservation goals within the international climate law framework. Global Environmental Change and Innovation in International Law. (pp. 81-101) edited by Neil CraikCameron JefferiesSara Seck and Tim Stephens. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781108526081.006

Bell-James, Justine (2016).Developing a framework for "Blue Carbon" in Australia: legal and policy considerations. University of New South Wales Law Journal, 39 (4), 1583-1583.

Project members

Associate Professor Justine Bell-James

Associate Professor
TC Beirne School of Law