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International Environmental Law in the Anthropocene: Towards a Purposive System of Multilateral Environmental Agreements

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2013

Rakhyun E. Kim
Affiliation:
Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra (Australia). Email: rakhyunkim@gmail.com.
Klaus Bosselmann
Affiliation:
Faculty of Law, University of Auckland (New Zealand). Email: k.bosselmann@auckland.ac.nz.

Abstract

Our point of analytical departure is that the state of the global environment is deteriorating despite the accumulating body of international environmental law. By drawing on the recent Earth system science concept of interlinked planetary boundaries, this article makes a case for a goal-oriented, purposive system of multilateral environmental agreements. The notion of ‘goal’ is used here to mean a single, legally binding, superior norm – a grundnorm – that gives all international regimes and organizations a shared purpose to which their specific objectives must contribute. A bird’s eye view of the international environmental law system reveals how the absence of a unifying goal has created a condition that is conducive to environmental problem shifting rather than problem solving. We argue that a clearly agreed goal would provide the legal system with a point of reference for legal reasoning and interpretation, thereby enhancing institutional coherence across Earth’s subsystems. To this end, this article concludes by observing that the protection of the integrity of Earth’s life-support system has emerged as a common denominator among international environmental law instruments. Accordingly, we suggest that this notion is a strong candidate for the overarching goal of international environmental law.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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References

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116 For general discussions on the legal dimension of ocean fertilization, see, e.g., Freestone, D. & Rayfuse, R., ‘Ocean Iron Fertilization and International Law’ (2008) 364 Marine Ecology Progress Series, pp. 227–33; Abate, R.S. & Greenlee, A.B., ‘Sowing Seeds Uncertain: Ocean Iron Fertilization, Climate Change, and the International Environmental Law Framework’ (2010) 27(2) Pace Environmental Law Review, pp. 555–98; Bertram, C., ‘Ocean Iron Fertilization in the Context of the Kyoto Protocol and the Post-Kyoto Process’ (2010) 38(2) Energy Policy, pp. 1130–9; VanderZwaag, D.L., ‘Ocean Dumping and Fertilization in the Antarctic: Tangled Legal Currents, Sea of Challenges’, in Berkman, P.A., Lang, M.A., Walton, D.W.H. & Young, O.R. (eds), Science Diplomacy: Antarctica, Science, and the Governance of International Spaces (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2011), pp. 245–52; Warner, R., ‘Marine Snow Storms: Assessing the Environmental Risks of Ocean Fertilization’ (2009) 3(4) Carbon and Climate Law Review, pp. 426–36.

117 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, London (United Kingdom), 29 Dec. 1972, in force 30 Aug. 1975, available at: http://www.imo.org.

118 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972, London (United Kingdom), 7 Nov. 1996, in force 24 Mar. 2006, available at: http://www.imo.org.

119 See, e.g., Zeebe, R.E., Zachos, J.C., Caldeira, K. & Tyrrell, T., ‘Carbon Emissions and Acidification’, (2008) 321(5885) Science, pp. 51–2.

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122 Kim, R.E., ‘Is a New Multilateral Environmental Agreement on Ocean Acidification Necessary?’ (2012) 21(3) Review of European Community and International Environmental Law, pp. 243–58; Baird, R., Simons, M. & Stephens, T., ‘Ocean Acidification: A Litmus Test for International Law’ (2009) 3(4) Carbon and Climate Law Review, pp. 459–71; Harrould-Kolieb, E.R. & Herr, D., ‘Ocean Acidification and Climate Change: Synergies and Challenges of Addressing Both under the UNFCCC’ (2012) 12 Climate Policy, pp. 378–89; Lamirande, H.R., ‘From Sea to Carbon Cesspool: Preventing the World’s Marine Ecosystems from Falling Victim to Ocean Acidification’ (2011) 34(1) Suffolk Transnational Law Review, pp. 183217.

123 Baird, Simons & Stephens, ibid.

124 UNFCCC, n. 77 above, Art. 4(1)(d); Kyoto Protocol, n. 121 above, Art. 2(1)(a)(ii).

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147 Kauffman, ibid, at p. 267.

148 Steiner, Kimball & Scanlon, n. 21 above.

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154 Ibid., Preamble.

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157 N. 66 above.

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164 Rio Declaration, ibid., Principle 7.

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167 Draft International Covenant, n. 159 above, Art. 2. This was reflected in the text upon consulting with the drafters of the Earth Charter to ensure consistency among the principles set forth in both texts.

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