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An increasing number of jurisdictions are using environmental impact assessment as a tool for climate change mitigation (in brief, ‘Climate Assessment’, or CA). This chapter debates whether this is a legal obligation, or whether this even makes sense. Benoit Mayer argues that CA is emerging as a rule of customary international law, and that, moreover, it is a potentially useful mitigation tool. Alexander Zahar, by contrast, questions the meaningfulness of CA, arguing that it is impossible to determine what constitutes a significant, excessive, or disproportionate emission of greenhouse gases in the case of a proposed activity subject to CA, or at all.
This chapter debates historical responsibility for climate change. The argument from historical responsibility has a legal dimension, as it is often used to assert the heightened mitigation and compensation obligations of some states. The debate here begins with the question of whether certain historically high-emitting states are legally bound to provide some sort of compensation for past levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Sarah Mason-Case and Julia Dehm answer this question in the affirmative, arguing that international law, but also notions of justice, provide bases for recognizing historical responsibility and for claiming reparation for the wrongs inflicted. Alexander Zahar, on the negative side, attacks the assumption that historical emissions and their growth rate since Industrialization are known accurately enough, such as to allow for blame to be pinned on certain countries and not others.
This conclusion highlights the key themes developed throughout the book. It identifies three main questions to which climate law scholarship seeks to respond: What are states’ obligations? What are the foundations of climate law? How does climate change transform the law?
This chapter outlines the most debatable points regarding the legal foundations of climate finance, focusing primarily on the provisions of the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement as well as associated instruments. The legally relevant debates about climate finance come down to the question of whether there is an obligation for developed countries to provide climate finance to developing countries, and, if so, what it consists in. In this respect, the chapter – after outlining the main legal provisions – discusses debates about the following points:
The chapter also proposes possible future directions for legal reflection. Owing to this volume’s focus, the chapter does not cover all provisions related to climate finance but only the aspects that are legally controversial.
Debating Climate Law is the result of a collaboration of twenty-nine scholars from around the world with an interest in better understanding what climate law is, should be, or could become. They have come together to present eleven debates and seven ‘reflections’ about debates in climate law.
But what is climate law? And why is it necessary to debate it? In introducing this volume, we begin with an account of climate law’s brief history to date. We then proceed to the reasons for the book’s layout in the form of a series of debates. We wrap up this introduction with an overview of the debates themselves.