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When we speak of transnational environmental law and legal process, we are concerned with the migration and impact of legal norms, rules and models across borders. Such migration can occur through the mediation of international law and institutions, or through the impact of unilateral legal developments in one jurisdiction that affect behaviour in others. The paper discusses the importance of assessing transnational environmental law in light of the constraints facing consent-based international environmental law, examines the trade-offs between transnational and international environmental law from the perspective of legitimacy, and concludes by discussing the important but delicate relation of international law to transnational environmental law as both a check and a consolidator. International law should guard against the self-serving unilateral use of transnational environmental law, but it should do so in a way that preserves (and does not shut off) the dynamic, responsive character of the transnational environmental law process. Otherwise international law itself will be delegitimized.
The concept of transnational environmental law is used descriptively and prescriptively to refer to a multitude of legal processes which are distinct from transnational law in other legal areas. Hence, the rise of transnational environmental law requires environmental lawyers to reflect on their skills and knowledge and to foster both their contributory and interactional expertise in this area. That process of fostering expertise needs to be seen in light of a number of intellectual challenges, including the necessity to engage with comparative environmental law methodology, the need to not privilege one legal system over others, the need to engage with extended legal pluralism, the importance of thinking about the role of language in legal processes, and the significance of understanding the process of co-production.
Since the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, ecological pressures on our planet have grown more acute. Yet, modern environmental law has also continued to evolve and spread within international as well as among national legal systems. With the paths of international and national environmental law becoming increasingly intertwined over the years, international environmental legal norms and principles are now penetrating deeper into national legal systems, and environmental treaties are increasingly incorporating or referencing national legal norms and practices. The shifting legal landscape is also changing contemporary environmental law practice, creating greater needs for domestic environmental lawyers to be informed by international law and vice versa. This essay describes how domestic environmental law practice is increasingly informed by international legal norms, while the effective practice of international environmental law more and more requires enhanced awareness, and even understanding, of national environmental regulatory and governance systems. It illustrates these trends with the historical role and work of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel.
This contribution focuses on the challenges that regional organizations face as they are increasingly confronted with, and need to respond to, transboundary and global environmental problems. Ever more frequently, environmental issues that begin as matters of national concern rapidly become transboundary in scope. As exemplified by the outbreak of avian flu, integrated national, regional and international efforts are necessary to tackle transboundary environmental issues which, by their very definition, call for a coordinated effort. This article will concentrate on the impact of transboundary environmental challenges on the objectives and functions of the Association of South East Asian Nations (asean).
Dominant analytical approaches to environmental law exhibit a similar, problematic form: they treat that which should be outcome determining as, instead, outcome determined. This form is most evident and influential in the welfare economic technique of regulatory cost–benefit analysis, which treats all resources – including the monetary value of human lives – as potential means towards seemingly higher yielding ends. In contrast, an environmental constitutionalism, in which certain needs and interests of present and future generations, the global community, and other forms of life are given foundational legal importance, would help to restore conceptual coherence and normative priority to the subjects of environmental law.
This paper traces back the efforts, in particular in Europe, to promote transnational legal provisions which grant a right of access to environmental information. Initiatives in the 1970s failed to establish a fundamental right to a clean environment. However, the establishment of fundamental procedural rights of access to information, participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters has been more successful – culminating in the 1998 Aarhus Convention. This paper describes the – until now unsuccessful – attempts to extend the territorial scope of application of the Aarhus Convention to non-European countries and regions, and ultimately the conclusion of a global convention on access to environmental information.
There is growing interest in a framework for responsible research and innovation within Europe. This paper explores why this has come about and suggests that it is related to a concern with emerging and converging technologies that goes beyond a narrow conception of risk to the environment or to human health. Rather, there is a trepidation arising out of the transformative capacity of modern technologies and their stated aspiration to manipulate the natural world. In this context, the paper poses three central questions about the shape of any framework for responsible research and innovation. First, why is the target that of research and innovation? Secondly, at what scale should the framework operate? Thirdly, what form of governance structure would be best suited to the oversight of research and innovation?
There is a compelling argument for developing a low carbon emissions trajectory to mitigate climate change and for doing so urgently. What is needed is a transformation of the energy sector and an ‘energy revolution’. Such a revolution can only be achieved through effective energy governance nationally, regionally, and globally. But frequently such governance is constrained by the tensions between energy security, climate change mitigation and energy poverty. At national level, there is a chasm between what is needed and what governments do ‘on the ground’, while regionally and globally, collective action challenges have often presented insurmountable obstacles. The article examines what forms of energy law, regulation and governance are most needed to overcome these challenges and whether answers are most likely to be found in hierarchy, markets, or networks.
This article describes the challenges of using the constrained tools of international law to negotiate a sustainable framework to address climate change. It sets out to show how the particularities of the problem have led to creative and innovative solutions expanding the borders of international law. To this end, the article discusses carbon market mechanisms, the compliance regime of the Kyoto Protocol, and the emerging framework to create incentives to reduce land-based emissions in developing countries. These examples illustrate that the recognition of the role of sub-national and private entities in mitigating climate change has had significant impact on the rules of the climate regime. But the article also asserts that the un process, while recognizing the role of private actors, is still inadequately equipped to involve non-state actors in a meaningful way. The climate regime therefore challenges the traditional thinking about interstate relationships. No longer solely a matter for international environmental law, contemporary environmental governance has become a global affair, which makes the lens of transnational law a useful tool to think about these issues in practice in a more intellectually fruitful and relevant way. This article thereby provides a snapshot of the type of issues and discussion that readers of this journal can look forward to in the years to come.
This essay argues that fresh water, its availability and use, should now be recognized as ‘a common concern of humankind’, much as climate change was recognized as a ‘common concern of humankind’ in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and conservation of biodiversity was recognized as a ‘common concern of humankind’ in the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. This would respond to the many linkages between what happens in one area with the demand for and the supply of fresh water in other areas. It would take into account the scientific characteristics of the hydrological cycle, address the growing commodification of water in the form of transboundary water markets and virtual water transfers through food production and trade, and respect the efforts to identify a human right to water.
This paper is concerned with three emerging issues that define the way in which international conservation law moves forward in the coming decades. The three issues are those related to the use of science to frame regimes; the use of philosophy to examine the values of what is trying to be achieved; and the use of politics to ensure that local communities are linked to conservation efforts. Consideration of each of these three areas is relatively recent, none of them having being at the forefront of conservation considerations of international importance in the past. In the future, this is likely to change.
This essay places transnational environmental law in an epistemological context. Starting from the general concept of ‘transnational law’ and the specific environmental dimension of ‘international administrative law’, four case histories are presented to illustrate the integrant approach of transnational environmental law. The cases – all arising in the 1970s – deal with transboundary problems of aircraft noise, ocean dumping, river pollution, and marine protected areas. In addition to traditional aspects of public international law in the environmental field, they typically interface with questions of administrative law, private international law, criminal law, and human rights law. The essay advocates a new focus on mechanisms for participation by civil society in the operation and implementation of transnational environmental law.
The current global environmental law and governance regime has been designed primarily to attend to the worsening ecological crisis. Evidence, however, suggests that the regime is far from achieving its goal and it is failing in its efforts to solve what people perceive to be pervasive global environmental problems. There is little doubt that this regime is in need of urgent reforms and/or re-situation in a decidedly different paradigm. This article proposes that global constitutionalism, while no panacea, could contribute to these paradigm-shifting reforms by providing a new perspective through which to view the current deficient global environmental law and governance regime and, in real terms, ameliorating some of the deficiencies of the regime through a normative process of constitutionalization.