Recalibrating The Law of Humans with The Laws of Nature (T. Bach & B.H. Weston)


Tracy Bach (Vermont Law School, USA)
Burns H. Weston (University of Iowa, USA)


Climate change, intergenerational justice, intergenerational equity, climate policy, international law, international environmental law, Edith Brown Weiss, conservation of options, conservation of quality, conservation of access, sustainable law, carbon-constrained world


In ‘Recalibrating the Law of Humans with the Laws of Nature’, Professors Bach and Weston argue that intergenerational rights should be explicitly taken into account when making climate policy. After exploring the well developed ethical and philosophical literature on intergenerational justice, the authors turn to three intergenerational equity principles developed by Professor Edith Brown Weiss in her 1989 book, In Fairness to Future Generations: conservation of diversity, quality, and equity. The authors trace how these principles have been at the heart of environmental laws in the U.S., in several common and civil law countries, and in international treaties. But they also underscore how they’ve failed to operate to prevent climate change. The authors conclude by offering sixteen recommendations for incorporating intergenerational principles into climate change lawmaking, to ensure that future generations’ interests are accounted for when creating sustainable laws in a carbon-constrained world.


Vermont Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Research Paper No. 10-06 (3 August 2009)


Recalibrating The Law of Humans with The Laws of Nature: Climate Change, HumanRights, and Intergenerational Justice