Tag Archives: inequality

Pursuing Environmental Justice with International Human Rights and State Constitutions (Neil A. F. Popovic)

Author

Neil A.F. Popovic

Keywords

environmental justice, environmental rights, international human rights, state constitution, environmental racism, environmental degradation, poverty, social rights, environmental hazards, inequality, civil rights

Extract

I. Introduction

Notwithstanding the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law, environmental racism thrives in the United States. Its manifestations include toxic waste dumps on indigenous lands, hazardous industrial facilities in communities of color, lead paint in decrepit housing projects, and use of dangerous pesticides in industrial agriculture. Environmental racism feeds on and perpetuates the social, economic and political marginalization of low-income communities and communities of color. As such, environmental racism in the United States represents a serious blight on the country’s human rights record.

Discriminatory siting decisions for environmentally hazardous facilities and uneven enforcement decisions do not necessarily result from consciously racist policy choices. More likely, they issue from a political and social system that marginalizes the participation and concern of communities of color, often through ostensibly neutral criteria. The effect, however, is no less racist than overt discrimination.

The United States has a substantial body of both environmental and civil rights laws, but none of these laws addresses the link between racism and environmental quality. 2 At best, environmental laws can enhance protection of the environment while civil rights laws can facilitate the rectification of overt racial discrimination. Neither body of law, however, addresses the impact of environmental degradation on human communities, and neither deals specifically with environmental racism.

Citation

(1996) 15 Stanford Environmental Law Journal 338 pp. 344-47

Paper

Pursuing Environmental Justice with International Human Rights and State Constitutions

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Unsustainable: A Primer for Global Environmental & Social Justice (P. Hossay)

Author

Patrick Hossay

Keywords

Unsustainable, environmental crisis, human and social crisis, poverty, inequality, capitalist development, industrial growth, environmental policies, sustainable, socially just, development, free-market forces, corporate-centred globalization, international institutions, global order

Abstract

Unsustainable explains the double bind in which humanity now finds itself – an excalating environmental crisis, and a worsening human and social crisis of poverty and inequality. The author explains how these twin crises share the same historical roots. Brilliantly combining a huge amount of up-to-date information, visual charts, and clear explanation, he shows step by step how a particular historical path of colonialism, capitalist development and industrial growth has got us into this mess.

He shows how current attempts to develop effective environmental policies and to promote sustainable and socially just development internationally are being stymied by free-market forces, corporate-centred globalization, and the policies and actions of key international institutions.

The very structure of our global order is unsustainable. The are no simple answers. Changing our own behaviour is important, but fundamentally inadequate. Only, Hossay argues, a fundamental restructuring of the way we do business will save us from environmental and human catastrophe. And he suggests ways in which we can work for such changes.

Citation

Patrick Hossay, Unsustainable: A Primer for Global Environmental and Social Justice (Zed Books, 2005)

Book

Unsustainable: A Primer for Global Environmental and Social Justice

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Power, Justice, and the Environment (D. Naguib and R.J Brulle)

Editor

David Naguib ( University of Minnesota )
Robert J. Brulle ( Drexel University )

Keywords

Environmental justice, power, civil rights movement, activists, environmentalists, academics, food and justice, healthy communities, autonomy, equity, legal system, governance, United States, South Africa, economic justice, sustainability, future

Abstract

For almost 30 years, the environmental justice movement (EJM) has challenged the environmental and health inequities that are often linked with social inequities, calling attention to the disproportionate burden of pollution borne by low-income and minority communities. The successes of the movement have been celebrated, and the EJM’s impact on the direction of environmental policy, research, and activism is widely acknowledged. But the literature on environmental justice lacks a real assessment of the movement’s effectiveness. This book provides just such a critical appraisal, examining the EJM’s tactics, strategies, rhetoric, organizational structure, and resource base. With chapters by both scholars and activists, the book links theory and practice with the aim of contributing to a more effective movement.

Power, Justice, and the Environment looks first at the progress, failures, and successes of the EJM over the years. A comparison with the Civil Rights movement draws some provocative conclusions.The book next focuses on the development of new strategies and cultural perspectives, considering, among other topics, alternative models for community mobilization and alternative organizational structure. Finally, the book examines the effect of globalization on environmental inequality and how the EJM can address transnational environmental injustices.

Citation

David Naguib and Robert J. Brulle (eds), Power, Justice, and the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement (MIT Press, USA 2005)

Book

Power, Justice, and the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement

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Human rights and climate change (collection of articles edited by S. Humphreys)

Author

Multiple authors (collection) edited by Stephen Humphreys (forward by Mary Robinson):

Stephen Humphreys (including introduction and conclusion), Simon Caney, Dinah Shelton, Peter Newell, Sam Adelman, Philippe Cullet, Francis Seymour, Paul Hunt & Rajat Khosla, Jon Barnett, John C. Mutter & Kye Mesa Barnard.

Keywords

Environmental justice, human rights, climate change, developing countries, vulnerability, forced migration, climate harms, moral thresholds, extraterritorial responsibility, equitable utilisation of the atmosphere, corporate accountability, Kyoto protocol, equity dimensions, forests, managing risks and trade-offs, highest attainable standard of health, evolution of disasters and inequality.

Abstract

As the effects of climate change continue to be felt, appreciation of its future transformational impact on numerous areas of public law and policy is set to grow. Among these, human rights concerns are particularly acute. They include forced mass migration, increased disease incidence and strain on health care systems, threatened food and water security, the disappearance and degradation of shelter, land, livelihoods and cultures, and the threat of conflict. This inquiry into the human rights dimensions of climate change looks beyond potential impacts to examine the questions raised by climate change policies: accountability for extraterritorial harms; constructing reliable enforcement mechanisms; assessing redistributional outcomes; and allocating burdens, benefits, rights and duties among perpetrators and victims, both public and private. The book examines a range of so-far unexplored theoretical and practical concerns that international law and other scholars and policy-framers will find increasingly difficult to ignore. It is the first attempt to examine the interface between human rights and climate change and picks out areas where interactions between the two disciplines can be found. Hence this collection examines where an interface is already taking place and forecasts the type of techniques and strategies it may ‘engender or adopt’.

Citation

(2010, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge)

Paper

Human Rights and Climate Change

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… Ecuador’s Amazon Oil Fields: The Privatization of Environmental Law (J. Kimerling)

Author

Judith Kimerling

Keywords

International Standards, Sustainable Development, Corporate Responsibility, Environmental Law, Policy, Inequality, Rule of Law

Abstract

This Article seeks to help inform the trade debate by examining one initiative to implement international environmental standards in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador, by a U.S.-based oil company, Occidental Petroleum (“Occidental”). In this case, Occidental has used “international standards” to wrap its activities in a veneer of environmental excellence; reassure government officialsm and local residents; cultivate confusion about standards and practices that apply to the operations; deflect meaningful oversight and transparency; and arbitrarily legitimize norms that have been defined by special interests. At the same time, the company has quietly negotiated an environmental law regime in its contract with Ecuador that seems designed to perpetuate and even legalize environmental self-regulation. These findings contradict the popular view that governments like Ecuador are on a “learning curve,” and that foreign investment by TNCs strengthens the capacity of national officials to implement environmental law. They suggest that, in order for international standards and corporate responsibility to promote the rule of law in environmental affairs, and reliably raise standards for environmental protection, the international community needs to move beyond statements of principle, and develop transparent and participatory mechanisms to independently monitor and evaluate claims of environmental excellence by TNCs. In addition, the practice of negotiating environmental rules in contracts with TNCs raises serious questions of law and legitimacy, and should be publicly disclosed and debated before adherence to those contractual provisions becomes a litmus test for democratic development and the rule of law in Ecuador.

The Article begins with a general discussion of international standards, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, followed by an overview of Occidental’s corporate policy and operations. It continues with a brief discussion of environmental law in Ecuador, and an introduction to the company’s contract with the State. It then examines provisions in the contract that relate to international standards, and the implementation by Occidental of the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management, which is commonly cited by corporate and government officials as the most important international standard for the operations. The Article continues with a discussion of additional provisions in the contract that define rules for environmental protection, including a provision that adopts Occidental’s corporate environmental management plan (“EMP”) as a legal standard. A detailed review of the EMP follows. The Article concludes that the EMP and contract operate together to cede environmental rule-making authority to Occidental, without public disclosure or meaningful review and approval by the government, and that this amounts to the privatization of environmental law. To shed light on the consequences of this legal framework, and levels of environmental protection, the Article then examines Occidental’s operations in the oil fields, while acknowledging that the public record is murky in some important respects. It concludes with some general observations and recommendations.

Citation

(2001) 26 Columbia Journal of Environmental Law 289

Paper

International Standards in Ecuador ’s Amazon Oil Fields: The Privatization of Environmental Law

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