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Global Environmental Law, with a focus on climate change

Tuition fee €775 per programme

Reduced tuition fee for the 2021 edition of Maastricht Online Campus due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.


The environment knows no boundaries, while national legal systems do. The problem of climate change is a dramatic illustration of this fact. It is therefore of the utmost importance to develop international law approaches in order to deal with transboundary and global environmental problems such as climate change. Next to global environmental problems such as the continuing loss of biodiversity, long-distance air-pollution, and the threat of climate change, the protection of important nature, a healthy condition of water and soil, and the environmental safety of products are core concerns.

Fortunately, law serves as an important instrument to improve and protect the environment. One mean is the establishment of International environmental agreements, but the effectiveness of such agreements often falls short. In such cases, bottom up national and regional developments can fill the regulatory and enforcement gaps left at the international scene. In view of this, the concept of Global Environmental Law (GEL) discusses the emerging body of international and bottom up legal developments in order to protect the environment. International environmental law will be the starting point of the course, but, next to this, selected national and regional regulatory approaches to address environmental pollution will be discussed, including the interaction between these different layers of rule-making and enforcement.

The course will provide core knowledge of important concepts such as environmental principles, international environmental agreements, environmental (human) rights, the choice and design of regulatory instruments including carbon markets, and the role of the courts, including the International Court of Justice. Specific attention will go to the European Union as a regional international organisation currently stepping up its ambition to protect the environment by means of the `Green Deal’. The world-wide problem of climate change serves as the leading case of this course.

The course will be structured around the following themes:
• international environmental rule-making, including (short-falling) compliance and enforcement
• the concept of global environmental law as a mean to fill gaps of international environmental law
• the concept of sustainable development
• environmental principles
• human rights and environmental protection
• environmental procedural rights
• international and EU climate law, including the choice and application of regulatory instruments to steer citizen & business behaviour.

This course consists of 32 class hours (synchronous/asynchronous) divided over 3 weeks. Participants earn 6 ECTS credits when they obtain a passing grade or 7.5 ECTS when they obtain a passing course grade and ISP grade.

The program is offered as a bachelor course. The program is designed for students and other participants with an interest in becoming future policy and decision makers in government and businesses, working in Environmental and/ or Human Rights NGOs, consultants, corporate lawyers, barristers and researchers and academics.

Course Duration and Dates
This is a 3-week online course running from the 4th of January until the 22nd of January, 2021. The classes will be scheduled in Central European Time [CET] so it is possible that some time slots are not ideal for people in certain time zones. However, when scheduling the courses, we will try to take into account the different time zones as much as we can.

The number of credits earned after successfully concluding this course is the equivalent of 6 ECTS according to Maastricht University’s guidelines. For further information see the terms and conditions. Please consult with your home university if these credits will be accepted as part of your programme and, if necessary, converted to the credit system acknowledged by your home university.

There is a possibility of earning 1,5 additional ECTS upon completion of a research paper for €200. Please reach out to us via mail if you would like to sign up for an Independent Study Project (ISP). This would bring the total of earned ECTS to 7,5 ECTS.

Course coordinator
Prof. Dr. Marjan Peeters

Marjan Peeters – Professor of Environmental Policy and Law since April 2008 – started in 1987 during her law study with specialising in environmental law. Since then, she has been focusing on understanding how a high level of environmental protection can be effectively and efficiently reached based on the rule of law and in the context of sustainable development. Marjan leads the courses “European Environmental Law” (master-level) and “International Environmental Law” (bachelor-level) at Maastricht University, and from 2021 on she will deliver the world-wide on-line course “Global Environmental Law” (bachelor-level). In her teaching efforts her core aim is to help students in an inter-active way with acquiring important knowledge of the complex and dynamic field of environmental law, and to stimulate their critical thinking on how law could help to address environmental problems. In her research, she specialises in legal aspects of climate change, regulatory instruments, and environmental procedural rights. The latest books she has published are the Research Handbook on EU environmental law (2020), co-edited with Mariolina Eliantonio, and Climate Change Law (2016), co-edited with Daniel A Farber.

The overall objective of this course is to provide core knowledge of the main characteristics and developments of environmental law from a global perspective. A related goal is to provide an in-depth understanding of the interrelationship between international and European greenhouse gas emissions reduction regulations.

By the end of the course, students should have basic knowledge of:
• The role of International environmental rule-making through multilateral environmental agreements, including compliance and enforcement
• The concept of Global environmental law as a mean to fill the shortcomings of international environmental law
• The role of the International Court of Justice with regard to environmental problems and the emerging role of national litigation
• The concept of sustainable development and the possible role of environmental legal principles
• Human rights and environmental protection
• Procedural rights (access to environmental information, access to public participation, and access to the courts) in environmental matters
• The regulation of greenhouse gas emission reduction at the international and EU level

Participants should have some background in law (such as, for students, being in their second bachelor year at the minimum).

A minimum of 12 students is required for the class to take place.

Recommend literature
Participants will study a collection of book chapters, articles, treaty texts, court decisions and relevant websites. These materials are comprehensively provided electronically (an electronic reference list).

Teaching methods
Recorded Lectures ▪ Tutorials ▪ Individual Presentations ▪ Q and A sessions (discussion sessions)

Assessment methods
Individual Presentation (10 minutes) ▪ Multiple choice exam
For the extra 1.5 ECTS: paper (Individual project)

Apply now! J-term 2021
Application deadline
Dec 7, 2020 23:59:59
Europe/Amsterdam time
Studies commence
Jan 4, 2021

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States

Apply now! J-term 2021
Application deadline
Dec 7, 2020 23:59:59
Europe/Amsterdam time
Studies commence
Jan 4, 2021

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States