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 10: Towards new legal futures? In search of renewing foundations

Anna Grear

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


This chapter is a development of an article originally published as part of an edition in the O-ati Socio-Legal Series. The structural organisation of the original article traced the structure of an O-ati workshop held in 2012, offering a contingent weaving of selected themes suggested by the ebb and flow of notes taken during discussions. This chapter follows the same broad strategy. Its animating purpose is to reflect upon insights yielded by a lively confluence between critical environmental law scholarship and new materialist accounts (from which critical environmental law itself draws), placing these in direct engagement with a search for a renewing socio-juridical imaginary in which the relationship between human rights and the environment might be re-imagined. The chapter begins by contextualising its concerns in the semiotic and material dilemmas presented by the emergence of Anthropocene discourse, especially concerning the construction of a new universal humanity, before examining the shortfall of law’s response to the climate crisis – and exploring some broad directions for a new juridical imaginary holding out the promise of new human and environmental foundations for law and legal processes. It would be difficult to overstate either the urgency or the complexity of the current epochal juncture in which countless human beings now struggle to avert the ‘future histories’ threatened by neoliberal globalised capitalism and climate crisis in the Anthropocene age.

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