Tag Archives: climate change

An Emerging Human Right to Security from Climate Change: The Case Against Gas Flaring in Nigeria (A. Sinden)

Author

Amy Sinden

Keywords

Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights, Corporations

Abstract

Most of the oil wells in Nigeria are accompanied by a raging flame that burns twenty-four hours a day, reaching hundreds of feet into the sky, killing the surrounding vegetation with searing heat, emitting a deafening roar, and belching a cocktail of smoke, soot, and toxic chemicals into the air along with a potent mixture of greenhouse gases. In 2005, the Federal High Court of Nigeria ruled that the widespread practice of gas flaring by Shell and other oil companies in the Niger Delta constituted a human rights violation. This may be the first court ruling anywhere in the world to suggest that there is a human right to security from climate change. Such a right is warranted. It actually fits comfortably within the principles and values that underlie some of the oldest and most venerated rights in the civil and political rights tradition. Even though that tradition was born over two hundred years ago, long before anyone could have conceived of the idea of climate change, this problem – at least in its political aspects – is exactly the kind of problem that civil and political rights are aimed at combating. It is a problem that arises fundamentally from the distortion of government decision making by power. Nor does the fact that the actions complained of here were committed by private actors take this case outside the rubric of human rights. Even under traditional doctrine, the close relationship between Shell and the Nigerian government in this case may well warrant a finding of liability against Shell for acting in concert with the State. But even in cases where no joint venture with the government can be proved, it may be appropriate to hold the multi-national corporation liable. The same concerns that animated the conceptualization of civil and political rights in the eighteenth century as rights against the State, warrant the imposition of such rights directly against multinational corporations in the twenty-first century, when such corporations wield more wealth than many countries and the power of multinationals to affect the conditions of daily existence for individuals often rivals that of government.

Citation

(2008) in Adjudicating Climate Change: State, National, and International Approaches, W.C. Burns and H.M Osofsky (Eds)

Paper

An Emerging Human Right to Security from Climate Change: The Case Against Gas Flaring in Nigeria

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Climate Change and Human Rights (A. Sinden)

Author

Amy Sinden

Keywords

Human Rights, Climate Change, Politics

Abstract

Global warming may well be the most profound moral issue ever to face the human species. Profound moral issues demand a profound response from law, and as we enter the twenty-first century, human rights is (at least at a rhetorical level) the law’s best response to profound, unthinkable, far-reaching moral transgression. More fundamentally, it is the law’s strongest condemnation of the exploitation of the weak by the powerful. As such, it was the law’s response to the moral crises of the twentieth century, and I want to suggest that it may be an appropriate legal response to the moral crisis of the twenty-first century as well. Human rights function to counteract power imbalances in society. By acting as trumps human rights effectively put a thumb on the scale in favor of the weaker party in order to correct for the distorting effects of power. Because the economic model has become the dominant lens through which we view the world, climate change is often analyzed as a market failure brought on by the tragedy of the commons. But market failure is only part of the problem. There is a far more fundamental and intractable problem standing in the way of meaningful action to stem global warming. That is the political failure brought on by the enormous disparity in power and resources between those interests that stand to gain from climate change regulation and those that – at least in the short run – stand to lose. Thinking of climate change as a human rights issue can help us see that it is not just a matter of aggregate costs and benefits, but of winners and losers – of the powerful few preventing the political system from acting to protect the powerless many.

Citation

(2007) 27 Journal of Land Resources and Environmental Law 255

Paper

Climate Change and Human Rights

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Climate Change Adaptation and the Structural Transformation of Environmental Law (J. B. Ruhl)

Author(s)

J. B. Ruhl

Keywords

climate change, environmental law, greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation, mitigation, policy, pollution, land law, decision methods, regulation, conciliation

Abstract

The path of environmental law has come to a cliff called climate change, and there is no turning around. As climate change policy dialogue emerged in the 1990s, however, the perceived urgency of attention to mitigation strategies designed to regulate sources of greenhouse gas emissions quickly snuffed out meaningful progress on the formulation of adaptation strategies designed to respond to the effects of climate change on humans and the environment. Only recently has this “adaptation deficit” become a concern now actively included in climate change policy debate. Previously treating talk of adaptation as taboo, the climate change policy world has begrudgingly accepted it into the fold as the reality of failed efforts to achieve global mitigation policy has combined with the scientific evidence that committed warming will continue the trend of climate change well into the future regardless of mitigation policy success.

But do not expect adaptation policy to play out for environmental law the way mitigation policy has and is likely to continue. Mitigation policy has been framed as an initiative primarily within the domain of environmental law – a form of pollution control on steroids – and thus it will be environmental law that makes the first move and other policy realms that apply support or pushback. By contrast, environmental law does not “own” adaptation policy; rather, numerous policy fronts will compete simultaneously for primacy and priority as people demand protection from harms and enjoyment of benefits that play out as climate change moves relentlessly forward. This makes it all the more pressing for environmental law, early in the nation’s formulation of adaptation policy, to find its voice and establish its place in the effort to close the adaptation deficit.

Toward that purpose, this Article examines the context and policy dynamics of climate change adaptation and identifies ten trends that will have profound normative and structural impacts on how environmental law fits in: 1) Shift in emphasis from preservationism to transitionalism in natural resources conservation policy. 2) Rapid evolution of property rights and liability rules associated with natural capital adaptation resources. 3) Accelerated merger of water law, land use law, and environmental law. 4) Incorporation of a human rights dimension in climate change adaptation policy. 5) Catastrophe and crisis avoidance and management as an overarching adaptation policy priority. 6) Frequent reconfigurations of trans-policy linkages and trade-offs at all scales and across scales. 7) Shift from “front end” decision methods relying on robust predictive capacity to “back end” decision methods relying on active adaptive management. 8) Greater variety and flexibility in regulatory instruments 9) Increased reliance on multi-scalar governance networks. 10) Conciliation.

Citation

(2009) 40 Environmental Law 343

Paper

Climate Change Adaptation and the Structural Transformation of Environmental Law

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The Janus-Head of Human Rights and Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation (O. W. Pedersen)

Author(s)

Ole W. Pedersen

Keywords

Climate Change, Human Rights, Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, Clean Development Mechanism, Kyoto Protocol, Risk Assessment, Adaptation, Mitigation

Abstract

This article examines the role human rights instruments play when states seek to adopt regulatory initiatives in the name of addressing climate change. The article argues that a series of important restrictions exist. Governments responding to climate change need to take into account existing human rights. This observation is particularly relevant for countries implementing Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) projects and for countries taking part in Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under the Kyoto Protocol. The article likewise argues that special human rights obligations arise in relation to the risks associated with climate change. These place on states a responsibility to secure risk assessment and risk communication while taking steps to mitigate climate change-associated risks. While the article considers these requirements to constitute an absolute minimum, it is argued that they can offer a way of securing that national governments are accountable when it comes to climate change responses. On the other hand, it will be shown that these human rights restrictions will sometimes have the potential to run counter to the adoption of effective climate change responses.

Citation

(2011) 80 Nordic Journal of International law 403-423

Paper

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Climate Change and human Rights: Amicable or Arrested Development? (O. W. Pedersen)

Author(s)

Ole W. Pedersen

Keywords

Human Rights Law, Climate Change, Domestic Law, International Law

Abstract

This article considers the attention which is increasingly afforded to human rights norms in the attempt to highlight the challenges facing humankind as a result of climate change. It analyses the links between legal responses to climate change and human rights and argues that certain connections exist between the two. This is particularly the case in domestic settings. At the same time, a number of significant limitations exist which are likely to hamper the use of human rights law in climate change settings.

Citation

(2010) 1 Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 236

Paper

Climate Change and human Rights: Amicable or Arrested Development?

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