In 2020, a single virus changed many of the worlds in which humans live. From restrictions on immigration, movement and gatherings, to changes to public health policy, through to economics and housing, the SARS- CoV-2 virus restructured laws and lives. It also changed our more-than-human siblings’ worlds: some took the opportunity to roam into the quiet of the relatively human-free spaces produced by lockdown, some provided company to their humans working from home, and some, too, were susceptible to the virus.
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Emille Boulot, Anna Grear, Joshua Sterlin and Iván Darío Vargas-Roncancio
Benjamin J. Richardson
Covid-19 has dominated global news in 2020, but even the pandemic has not stymied a new generation of activists mobilizing for action on interconnected grievances of climate breakdown, economic inequality and social injustice.
Claire Burgess and Rupert Read
For this publication on environmental activism and the law, we interviewed representatives of Extinction Rebellion (XR) in the United Kingdom and Australia to explore their views on the goals, tactics and challenges for the movement. This report features interviews conducted in late 2019 with Claire Burgess (then regional coordinator XR Southern Tasmania, Australia) and Rupert Read (spokesperson for XR England and Reader in Philosophy, University of East Anglia). Both interviews, with identical questions, were conducted by Benjamin J Richardson, Professor of Environmental Law, University of Tasmania.
Paul Manly, Jonathan Bartley and Chlöe Swarbrick
For this edition on environmental activism and the law, we examined how contemporary green political parties construe their role and relevance when many environmentalists including the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement are bypassing parliamentary processes by taking to the streets as well as by proposing alternate forms of political engagement such as convening national citizens’ assemblies. This report features interviews conducted in early 2020 with Paul Manly (MP, House of Commons, Green Party of Canada); Chlöe Swarbrick (MP, New Zealand Parliament, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand); and Jonathan Bartley (Co-leader of the Green Party of England andWales, and councillor on Lambeth Council, London). Each interviewee responded to the same questions, which are detailed below. The interviews were conducted by Emma Thomas, XR Vancouver (interviewed Paul Manly); Trevor Daya-Winterbottom, FRGS, Associate Professor in Law, University of Waikato, and Deputy Chair of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law (interviewed Chlöe Swarbrick); and Benjamin J Richardson, Professor of Environmental Law, University of Tasmania (interviewed Jonathan Bartley).
The case studies examined in this volume demonstrate the human rights abuses that State policies cause by building mega-dams without any forethought to the indigenous peoples whose homes will stand in the way of these vast concrete barrages. On one level, it is still perplexing to me why governments cause such pain and anguish to their citizens – and to their bureaucrats, police, and armies, who must deal with angry mobs of people, who are about to be dispossessed or who have already been driven out of their homes. Of course, on another level, one is not so naïve as not to recognize that power, politics, self-interest, and corruption are also the mainstay of governments and government policies.
Can human rights practice in its current dominant forms tackle the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation? Although there is now increased recognition of the links between human rights and the environment, and while human rights tools and principles can contribute in some concrete ways to moving forward the environmental agenda, their potential for doing so is largely unrealised. The author analyses three different approaches used by advocates and activists in this field, before discussing potential alternatives and examples of radical or hybrid approaches with a view to articulating a strategy for activism and praxis that can capture the real and lived inter-connectedness of human rights enjoyment and environmental factors more meaningfully. Keywords human rights; environment; praxis; climate change; United Nations; development; activism