Corporations’ Role in the Environmental Crisis: Problem or Solution?

The world’s corporations are bigger than ever, and their influence in today’s world is unprecedented. In an era where humans can transform nature but are also extremely vulnerable to natural changes, and where anthropogenic climate change is now incontrovertible, intensified human activity is driving us towards ecological disaster. Do we move to rein in corporate power and its environmental impact? Or should we empower corporations to find innovative solutions in our race against time?


Venue: Cass Business School
Date: Friday, 11th April 2014
Available is the 2014 Programme.
PIEL UK Conference app available from here. This app will provide the Conference Programme as well as other relevant information about the Conference. It works across all platforms.

09:00 Registration
09:25 Welcoming Speech
Alexandra Gordin and Kiu Jia Yaw, Co-Chairs, PIEL UK 2013/2014 Organising Committee
09:30 Anatomy of a Corporation: People, Profit, Power & Pollution
Mr. Tim Edwards, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal – The Bhopal Tragedy: A Case Study in Corporate Impunity
Ms. Elspeth Owens, ClientEarth – Litigation as a Tool to Change Corporate Behaviour
Dr. Carrie Bradshaw, The University of York Law School – Is CSR the Solution?
*Panel format: 15 mins each speaker, followed by a 30 min discussion
10:45 Tea Break
11:00 Toxic Industries: Case Studies in Corporate Waste
Ms. Ilze Smit, Greenpeace “Toxics” Senior Campaigner
Dr. SomathilakaWeeramantry International Centre For Peace Education and Research (WICPER)
11:45 Keynote Speech: The Role of Corporations in the Environment
Speaker: His Excellency Judge C. G. Weeramantry, former Vice-President, International Court of Justice, and founder, Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research
12:45 The Role of a Dedicated Legal NGO in Environmental Protection
Professor Sharon Turner, Climate and Energy Programme Leader, ClientEarth, and Visiting Professor, University College London and University of Sussex
13:15 Lunch (Vegetarian hot lunch included)
14:30 WTO and the Environment: the Impact of International Trade on the Environment
Dr. David Collins, City University London
15:00 When Corporations Break the Law: Challenges in Prosecuting Corporations
Professor Richard Macrory QCUniversity College London – Enforcements Undertakings and Environmental Law – Corporate Cop Out or a Win-Win Sanction?
Mr. Sailesh MehtaRed Lion Chambers
Ms. Shruti Suresh, Environmental Investigations Agency – Investigating Environmental Crime and The Role of Corporate Entities
*Panel format: 15 mins each speaker, followed by a 30 min discussion
16:15 Tea Break
16:30 EFSA’s Role In The Risk Assessment of GMOs
Elisabeth Waigmann, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Head of GMO Unit 
17:00 Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change on the Basis of Science and Equity; the Context and Implications for Emissions Trading
Dr John Broderick, The University of Manchester Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
17:35 Closing/Drinks: Wine Reception and Canapes outside in the Courtyard

Judge Weeramantry


PIEL UK is delighted to confirm that His Excellency Judge Christopher Weeramantry will deliver the keynote speech at the Conference and address its theme: “Corporations’ role in the environmental crisis: problem or solution?”

Judge Weeramantry is one of the world’s foremost authorities on international environmental law. In 1991, he was elected as a Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), later becoming its Vice President (1997-2000). Prior to this, he was a Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka from 1965 to1972. Currently Emeritus Professor of Law at Monash University where he was a Professor of law from 1972-1991, he has served as Visiting Professor at universities across the world, including Stellenbosch in South Africa, the University of Papua New Guinea, University of Florida, Harvard University and the University of Tokyo.

Judge Weeramantry is renowned for his unswerving adherence to fundamental principles. In the ICJ’s Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996 Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons he delivered the dissenting judgment which has become the leading exposition of the illegality of nuclear weapons under international law. This began with the words “My considered opinion is that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegal in any circumstances whatsoever”.

Before this, he was Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into the mismanagement of phosphate mining in the Pacific island Nauru. The Commission concluded in 1986 that responsibility for the resulting catastrophic environmental destruction rested with the trustee powers which had previously controlled the island.

Over the course of his professional career, Judge Weeramantry has contributed considerably to legal education. He has lectured in over forty countries on topics including cross-cultural understanding and education, intergenerational equity, law and scientific advancement, and apartheid. He has written over twenty five books, and in his most recent publication, Tread Lightly on the Earth: Religion, Environment and the Human Future, he explores the teachings of five great religions to argue that humanity must cease to exploit the environment for short-term gain, and instead learn to live in harmony with nature in order to ensure the ultimate survival of our species.

Judge Weeramantry has received several awards in recognition of his contribution to global justice, peace and education.

These include:

• UNESCO Peace Education Prize in 2006

• Right Livelihood Award (alternative Nobel Prize) in the Swedish Parliament in 2007

• Sri Lankabhimanya; the Highest National Honour of Sri Lanka in 2007

• Lifetime Achievement Award of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in 2008

Sharon Turner

Climate and Energy Programme Leader, ClientEarth, and Visiting Professor, University College London and University of Sussex

Sharon leads the Climate and energy programme which spans our London, Brussels and Warsaw offices.
She is an environmental lawyer with a background as an academic and government legal advisor. Sharon has spent most of her (25 year) career working as an academic in the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast, where she was the Professor of Environmental Law and the Director of the Masters in Environmental Law & Sustainable Development. She has also worked as a legal adviser to the Northern Ireland Government as an external expert, and from 2002-2004 was seconded to its Department of the Environment where she worked as the Senior Legal Adviser on Environmental Law. Sharon has published extensively on Environmental Law and is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Environmental Law and Environmental Policy & Governance.  She continues to have close links with academia through honorary professorial appointments at University College London and the University of Sussex both of whom have leading research and teaching specialisations in Environmental Law.
Sharon obtained her undergraduate law degree at University College Dublin and her Masters in Law from Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto. She is also a Barrister and member of the Honourable Society of King’s Inns, Dublin.

Professor William Howarth

Professor of Environmental Law, Kent Law School

We welcome Professor William Howarth, who will chair this 8th Annual PIEL UK Conference.

William Howarth is Professor of Environmental Law at Kent Law School and co-convenor of its LLM programmes in Environmental Law and Policy, and International Environmental Law. Among other editorial work, he is editor of the Journal of Water Law and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Environmental Law, and Environmental Law and Management. He is an active member of the International Association for Water Law, the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association, the Agricultural Law Association and the Institution of Fisheries Management. His external appointments also include membership of the ESRC Research Assessment Panel and AHRC Peer Review College, fellowships of the Royal Society of Arts and Institute of Water and Management, and serving as honorary legal advisor to the Institute of Fisheries Management.

Professor Richard Macrory

Barrister and Professor of Environmental Law

Professor Richard Macrory is one of the leading experts in the field of environmental law. He teaches environmental law at University College London and has published on the topic widely. In 2005 Professor Macrory was appointed by the Cabinet Office to lead a review on regulatory sanctions applicable to business generally. The final report, Regulatory Justice – Making Sanctions Effective was published at the end of 2006 and all the recommendations accepted by Government. His core recommendations on civil sanctions and regulatory governance are reflected in Part III Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008.
Professor Macrory is a barrister and a member of Brick Court Chambers, London. In 2000 he was awarded a CBE for services to the environment and law, and in March 2008 he was made honorary Queens Counsel. In 2010 he was elected a Bencher of Gray’s Inn.

Ilze Smit

Senior Campaigner Toxics, Greenpeace International

Since 2010, Ilze Smit has worked as a campaigner for a toxic-free future. She strives to ensure clean water worldwide and to clean up the textile industry. In recent years, Greenpeace’s “Detox Fashion” campaign has succeeded in persuading 20 major fashion brands to commit to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals. Ilze holds a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution and Governance from the University of Amsterdam and another in Development Studies from the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Dr Carrie Bradshaw

Lecturer, York Law School

Carrie Bradshaw is a Lecturer in Law at the University of York. Carrie’s work looks at the interface of environmental law, company law and regulation, and considers the role for law and regulation in fostering a pro-environmental ‘conscience’ within companies. She is currently working on a monograph entitled Corporations, Responsibility & the Environment, to be published by Hart Publishing.


Elspeth Owens


Elspeth joined ClientEarth in January 2014 to lead ClientEarth’s climate liability and strategic litigation analysis. Prior to joining ClientEarth, Elspeth practised as a self-employed barrister for six years at 4 Pump Court, a leading commercial barristers’ chambers in London, where she specialised in commercial litigation and international arbitration, with a particular focus on shipping, insurance and construction. She has a wide range of litigation experience, including secondments in Hong Kong and China, and has regularly appeared as an advocate before a variety of courts and tribunals. She is ranked in the 2014 edition of the Chambers and Partners legal directory where she is described as a “rising star”. Elspeth read law as an undergraduate at the University of Oxford, following which she undertook the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL), before qualifying as a barrister in London.

Tim Edwards

Tim Edwards is a research and information specialist for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal – a coalition of survivor organisations and international NGO’s – and executive trustee of the Bhopal Medical Appeal, a UK-based charity supporting medical rehabilitation for gas and water pollution affected people. Tim has studied the legal, social and environmental consequences of Bhopal for 15 years, editing the campaign website and writing in New Internationalist, Ecologist Asia, Hindustan Times and The Guardian, amongst others.

Dr David Collins

Lecturer at City Law School

Dr David Collins teaches and researches in the field of international economic law at the City Law School of City University London. He specialises in the law of the World Trade Organization and international investment law. He is a fellow of the Institute for Globalisation and International Regulation at Maastricht University and a visiting professor at ESADE Law School in Barcelona, and serves on the editorial board of the Manchester Journal of International Economic Law. David has been a visiting fellow at a number of academic institutions including Georgetown University, Columbia University and the University of Hong Kong. His first monograph, The BRIC States and Outward Foreign Direct Investment, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013.

Sailesh Mehta

Barrister at Red Lion Chambers

Sailesh Mehta is a criminal barrister at Red Lion Chambers. He has particular expertise in prosecuting environmental offences. He is a List A Advocate (highest rank) for the Environment Agency, the Health & Safety Executive and the Office of Rail Regulation and, is also a Grade 4 Advocate (highest rank) for the Crown Prosecution Service. He regularly prosecutes in high profile cases involving offences of waste dumping and the trans-frontier shipment of waste.

Dr. Nilupul Gunawardena Somathilaka


Dr. Nilupul Gunawardena Somathilaka is based at the Weeramantry International Centre For Peace Education and Research (WICPER) in Sri Lanka, assisting His Excellency Judge C. G. Weeramantry. Dr. Somathilaka is a Medical Doctor who is now immersing himself in legal studies. His research interests and documentary contributions at WICPER include International Law, Environmental Law, International Human Rights Law and International Trade Law. In pursuance of his interest in the fields of Environmental and Public Health, he was employed to support the Post–Tsunami Environmental Recovery Programme implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme in Sri Lanka.

At the Conference, Dr. Somathilaka will utilise his medical acumen to discuss a much neglected area of Environmental Law: the detrimental impacts of the actions of pharmaceutical companies on the environment, which are often unperceived by the world.

Shruti Suresh

Wildlife Campaigner, Environmental Investigations Agency

Shruti Suresh is a wildlife campaigner at the Environmental Investigations Agency. She works mainly on issues concerning international law, illegal trade in wildlife, environmental crime and enforcement.

Prior to joining EIA, Shruti worked in a public interest law firm in Washington D.C. renowned for pioneering key litigation for the protection of wildlife. Her previous experience also includes working as an associate in a prominent corporate law firm in India.

Elisabeth Waigmann

Head of the GMO Unit, EFSA

Elisabeth Waigmann is Head of the GMO Unit at EFSA since 2011. Her Unit supports the EFSA scientific panel on Genetically Modified Organisms, which carries out evaluation of risk assessments on the safety of GMO with regard to human and animal health and the environment. She joined EFSA in 2008 as Senior Scientific Officer and Deputy Head of the GMO Unit.

Elisabeth will be discussing the role of EFSA in the risk assessment of GMOs and the agency’s policy as to independence from corporation influence.

Dr John Broderick

Knowledge Transfer Fellow, Tyndall Centre

John Broderick is a Knowledge Transfer Fellow at Tyndall Manchester, a core partner of the UK’s leading interdisciplinary climate change research centre. He has been a researcher in the Manchester group since 2006 specialising in emissions accounting, carbon trading and the climate impact of energy systems. His work has been published in academic and policy outlets, presented at the European Parliament and cited by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. With Professor Kevin Anderson, he was commissioned by the European Parliament to review the low carbon credentials of unconventional natural gas and has acted as a peer reviewer for a Department of Energy and Climate Change report on the same topic. He holds a PhD in climate policy from Manchester Business School and a first degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University.

John’s KT role is dedicated to policy relevant outputs and targeted research projects with organisations outside of academia. In late 2011 he led a high profile report on the climate change and environmental impacts of shale gas commissioned by The Co-operative. He is now working closely with Electricity North West in a number of Low Carbon Network Fund projects to understand the ways in which electrification can contribute to avoiding dangerous climate change and the carbon impact of ‘smart grid’ interventions.

He also supports the SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub addressing the research and challenges associated with increasing the contribution of UK bioenergy to meet strategic environmental targets in a coherent, sustainable and cost-effective manner, and the Manchester Energy initiative.

Supergen Bioenergy | The University of Manchester

Manchester Energy | The University of Manchester


The 2014 PIEL Committee is made up entirely of law students interested in the fields of environmental law and justice.

City University London, University College London, SOAS University of London & Birkbeck, University of London.


Kiu Jia Yaw (Chair, SOAS University of London)

Alexandra Gordin (Chair and Treasurer, City University London)

Zhe Zhou (Graphics and Technology Officer, University College London)

Josceline Cluff (Secretary, City University London)

Katie de Kauwe (Speaker Co-ordinator, City University London)

Ugo Taddei (Speaker Co-ordinator & Sustainability, University College London)

Emma Lui (Sustainability, University College London)

Moritz Koenig (Media and Communications, SOAS University of London)

Harry Stevens (Fundraising, Birkbeck University of London)

Mei Yan (Marketing Officer, University College London)

Zoe Rowe (Graphic Designer, Cranfield University)

Ted Okoroji (Senior Advisor, City University London)

Special Thanks to:

Aiden Macdonald, Afua Yeboa-Henaku, Cara Perry, Kathryn Wells, Jason Clarke, Darshini Subramaniam, Philippe Cullet & Maria Xypaki

Advisory Board

Maria Adebowale

Jane Holder

Donald McGillivray

Phil Michaels

Carolyn Stephens

Vicki Elcoate

Carine Nadal

Emma Montlake

Gen-Nam Chow

Richard Macrory

Ned Westaway

Nic Vincett

David Wei

Ileana Papadopoulou

James Kunz


Friends of the Earth
Hausfeld & Co. LLP
Green Dragons
City University London
London School of Economics and Political Science
UCL Centre for Law and Environment
With special thanks to Shocklogic.

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