Thought, Law, Rights and Action in the Age of Environmental Crisis

Thought, Law, Rights and Action in the Age of Environmental Crisis

Edited by Anna Grear and Evadne Grant

In the climate-pressed Anthropocene epoch, nothing could be more urgent than fresh engagements with the fractious relationships between ‘humanity’, law and the living order. This collection draws together theoretical reflections, doctrinal analyses and insights drawn from rights-based praxis to offer thoughtful – and at times provocative – engagements with the limitations of law at it faces the complexities of contemporary socio-ecological life-worlds in an age of climate crisis.

Chapter 3: Reflections on the relationship between environmental regulation, human rights and beyond – with Heidegger

Margherita Pieraccini

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


Let us labour to demonstrate how we must become aware of ourselves. No-one yet has made the crossing from nature to society, or vice versa, and no-one ever will. There is no such boundary to be crossed. The separation of human rights from environmental protection has been questioned extensively in the legal literature ever since the connections between the two were first made by Principle 1 of the Stockholm Declaration 1972 on the Human Environment. A variety of scholarly approaches have been proposed over the years to understand the ways in which the borders of the human rights rubric are, can or should be redrawn to incorporate environmental considerations. The most popular options include strengthening procedural environmental rights, creating a new substantive right to a satisfactory environment or reinterpreting existing human rights to protect the environment. These options are principally the outcome of sophisticated empirical analyses that have enriched our understanding of (human) rights perspectives on environmental protection. I propose to re-think the debate between human rights and environment by stepping away from these popular rights-based approaches, focusing instead on the interactions of environmental regulation and human rights as two legal fields. I argue that the way in which we are able to think about the possible interactions between these two legal fields is determined by certain philosophical assumptions concerning humanity and environment.

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