Ilona is the head of Baker McKenzie's Global Climate Change practice. She has worked for the last 20 years on climate law and finance, including the development of law and policy and its implementation by both governments and the private sector. This experience extends to complex multi-jurisdictional transactions as well as the development of innovative responses to climate change and sustainability problems.
Ilona has worked extensively on the development of carbon contracts, carbon funds and carbon transactions in both the compliance and voluntary markets. She also has a deep expertise in advising on natural sinks and forest based carbon transactions as well as on geological sequestration and the legal frameworks for carbon capture and storage. More recently she has been leading work exploring the role of hydrogen in transitioning to a low carbon economy.
Ilona's experience also extends to all aspects of environmental law and policy and she has a strong background in all aspects of management, planning and projects.
Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Ilona worked at the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) in London. She is also a former Principal Solicitor of the Environmental Defender's Office Ltd (NSW). Ilona currently serves as a board member of the Natural Resources Access Regulator, an independent body which oversees natural resources compliance in NSW. She is also a member of the NSW Independent Planning Commission which reviews and determines state significant development proposals. She is a visiting fellow at the ANU College of Law where she has taught international climate change law at ANU since 2009. Ilona has been ranked in Best Lawyers Australia since 2014 and was awarded Best Lawyer Climate Change in 2017 and 2019.
Ilona's particular focus is advising on the legal aspects of international and domestic climate change policy, carbon markets and emissions trading, including drafting emissions reduction purchase agreements for CDM projects. She has recently advised on legal and policy issues associated with the Australian Carbon Price Mechanism, Emission Reduction Fund and Safeguards Mechanism as well as a number of international matters related to REDD+ and CCS. Ilona also advises on environmental approvals at the federal and state levels and all aspects of water management and planning.
Representative Legal Matters
Law and Policy: Advising governments on the development of climate law and policy and the implementation of emissions trading schemes or tradeable offset markets including Australia, New Zealand, EU, Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Fiji. In particular Lead adviser to successive Australian governments on the development of a national emissions trading scheme and its Emissions Reduction purchasing fund.| Lead external adviser to the adviser to Fiji and Morocco in respect of their COP Presidencies.| Advising on the drafting of climate change and renewable energy laws.
Carbon Sequestration / Australian ERF: Advice to Carbon sequestration project operators and funders on Carbon Farming Initiative and Emissions Reduction Fund project development and legal requirements, particularly interpretation and application of the legislation and methodologies, the newness and additionality tests, appeal rights regarding decisions of the Clean Energy Regulator, and auction rules. | Advising leading ERF project developers on all aspects of their CFI projects and offtake arrangements, including landowner agreements and the process for obtaining carbon rights. | Advising a leading financial institution on its investment in an ERF project developer. | Drafting project investment documents and developing carbon rights documentation and landowner agreements for CFI/ERF projects.| Advising a large energy company on the forward financing and purchase of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) from an Emissions Reduction Fund sequestration project. | Legal adviser to the Queensland Government’s Land Restoration Fund.
Indigenous Carbon: Advising NAILSMA on the ability to develop carbon sequestration projects on all forms of Aboriginal land tenure in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland. | AbCF on the establishment of an Aboriginal Carbon Fund to enhance the market for indigenous carbon projects and deliver cultural, social and environmental benefits through the ERF.| Engaged by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs to support the transfer of knowledge and development of a savanna burning method for carbon abatement in Botswana.
Carbon Funds: Advising the World Bank and ADB on the development, implementation and operation of their carbon funds and emission reduction procurement programs including the FCPF and the Bio-carbon fund. | Advising the Green Climate Fund on their results based payments pilot program.
Carbon Procurement: Long term adviser to the Norwegian Ministry of Finance and Climate and Environment on its purchase of certified emission reductions to assist meeting its objectives under the Kyoto Protocol and the country's climate change goals.
Carbon Documentation: Advised the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on the development of template carbon finance documents for multi-lateral finance institutions.
Carbon Capture and Storage: Preparing various reports on legal frameworks for CCS for the Global CCS Institute, including update the Carbon Capture and Storage Legal and Regulatory Indicator Tool. |Undertaking due diligence on projects funded by the Institute and contracting approaches for CCS projects. | Advising multinational resources companies on legal and regulatory barriers and the development of legislative and policy pathways to develop and finance CCS projects in Australia.
Green Bonds: Advised BHP Billiton on an innovative landscape resilience Bond that provides conservation finance to a range of rainforest protection projects that avoids deforestation under the UN REDD+ mechanism. | Legal Adviser to Fiji on its 2017 Sovereign Green Bond.
Renewable Energy: Extensive expertise on environmental and planning aspects of renewable energy projects (solar, wind, biofuels) including advising on legal due diligence, project pathways and approvals. | Advising a number of entities with compliance obligations under State renewable and energy efficiency schemes on managing those obligations, including: advising on the development of activities that create certificates, transfer of title to energy efficiency savings and contracting for the transfer of those savings to enable certificates to be generated and traded
International Development: Advising the Republic of Indonesia, REDD+ Taskforce, assessing national laws and polies to implement REDD+ in Indonesia which involved assessing all national laws on forests, land tenure, foreign and domestic investment, constitutional and indigenous law and undertaking a gap analysis of this legal regime. developing a 10 year roadmap for legal reform. | Advising the Governments of Fiji and Nauru on legal readiness for climate finance in key sectors.
Professional Associations and Memberships
- National Environmental Law Association
- World Conservation Union
- Commission on Environmental Law
- New South Wales~Australia (2000)
- University of Sydney (LL.M.) (2003)
- Murdoch University (B.A., Honors) (1999)
- University of Western Australia (LL.B.) (1997)
Co-author, international climate law chapters of the Max Plank Encyclopeadia of International Law, 2011
Co-author, "Enhanced Governance and Dispute Resolution for the CDM," Carbon and Climate Change Law Review, 2009
Author, "Developing a strategy for managing climate change impacts on water resources," Impact – A National Journal on Environmental Law, December 2008
Co-author of report to European Commission on "Analysing the legal and organisational issues arising from linking the EU-ETS to other trading schemes," FIELD, IEEP, WRI, 2008
Co-author, “Climate Change and Adaptation in the Context of Transboundary Watercourses: A Case Study in the Niger River Basin,” FIELD, IIED & M Niasse, 2008