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The social dimensions of climate change

Climate Change, Capitalism and Sustainable Wellbeing

Ian Gough

Chapter 1 summarises our best knowledge about the predicted future of global warming and its potentially catastrophic implications for human habitats and human wellbeing. The policy options are summarised, divided between programmes to mitigate climate change and to adapt to it. But climate policy alone could be unjust and inequitable. The goal must be to respect biophysical boundaries while at the same time pursuing sustainable wellbeing: that is, wellbeing for all current peoples as well as for future generations. This means paying attention to its distribution between peoples, and to issues of equity and social justice. Between an upper boundary set by biophysical limits and a lower boundary set by decent levels of wellbeing for all today lies a safe and just space for humanity. The chapter concludes by noting two global landmarks in 2015: the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate agreement. Together they reveal a yawning gap between what is needed for a safe climate and the prospects for a just and flourishing society.

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Jorge E. Viñuales and Emma Lees

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Ruven Fleming

Chapter 1 introduces the two concepts of environmental protection and energy security. It assesses the main potential environmental issues as well as the major possible energy security benefits that are associated with shale gas extraction. The chapter starts by explaining what shale gas is, how it can be extracted and which terminology the industry uses. The chapter (and, indeed, the book) focuses on shale gas extraction because shale gas has the biggest potential of all `unconventionals´ to become commercially viable in the middle to long-term in Europe.

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Janet E. Milne

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Kirsten Davies, Sam Adelman, Anna Grear, Catherine Iorns Magallanes, Tom Kerns and S Ravi Rajan

The Declaration on Human Rights and Climate Change responds to the profound crisis of human hierarchies now characterizing the climate crisis. The Declaration, initiated prior to the 2015 COP 21 meeting by scholars from the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE), is one of a convergence of initiatives reflecting the need to understand human rights as intrinsically threatened by climate change. This article introduces the Declaration, the necessity for it, its philosophical and legal background and its support by contemporary cases providing evidence of the escalating legal need for such a tool. A key aim of the Declaration is to trace out a potential normative approach for establishing responsibility towards the planet and redressing unevenly distributed vulnerabilities and climate injustices while recognizing that it is vital that respect for human rights should be understood as an indispensable element of any adequate approach to climate change. The Declaration strives to offer a compelling level of ethical appeal, as well as to be legally literate and philosophically rigorous. The drafting process engaged scholars and communities from across the world, prioritized indigenous involvement, and drew on indigenous ontologies and epistemologies. Newer philosophical approaches such as new materialist understandings of lively materiality also informed the drafting process. Accordingly, the language of the Declaration creates space for non-Western ways of seeing and being as well as responding to insights emerging from new scientific understandings of the world.

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Edited by Anna Grear

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Janet E. Milne

While carbon tax measures have not yet met with success at the federal level in the United States, proposals for carbon taxes emerged in a handful of states in 2015 and 2016. The proposals address the shared challenge of climate change, but each has its own unique features and setting. Drawing on proposals in Oregon, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington as case studies, this chapter explores how state constitutions can affect the design of state-level carbon taxes and their legislative route toward enactment. For example, the Oregon constitution imposes limits on tax rates and use of the revenue when taxing certain fossil fuels. The constitutions in three of the four states require that some types of revenue measures must originate in the legislative House of Representatives, not the Senate, raising the question whether carbon taxes can be designed in a manner that will avoid this procedural constraint. In Washington, the carbon tax proposal came forward as a ballot initiative that went to voters in the general election, following a procedure permitted under the state constitution. These case studies serve as an important reminder of how constitutional provisions that were not created with climate change in mind can influence the design features of subnational carbon taxes and political strategies.

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Clement A. Tisdell

Outlines the objectives of this book and the reasons for pursuing these. In doing so, it specifies the aim of each chapter and provides a brief account of its contents. It is argued that in order to better assess the nature of our current environmental challenges: we need to consider their basic historical origins; we should take account of the limitations of available economic measures and methods for valuing environmental change; we ought to be aware of the imperfections of scientific predictions about the nature, course and consequences of biophysical attributes altered by environmental change (such as increasing levels of atmospheric CO2); and we should recognize that social embedding (of different types) is a serious impediment to humankind responding effectively to actual or predicted environmental change, especially human-induced environmental change, including human-generated climate change. The importance of each of these assertions is demonstrated and illustrated.

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Edited by Stefan E. Weishaar, Larry Kreiser, Janet E. Milne, Hope Ashiabor and Michael Mehling

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Celine Tan and Julio Faundez

The current economic and ecological climate calls for a reappraisal of the international legal and political framework governing natural resources, defined broadly to include materials and organisms naturally occurring in the environment, such as water, mineral and fossil fuels, and cultivated resources, such as food crops, both renewable and exhaustible. This reappraisal is urgent because the governance and management of natural resources have formed a pivotal backdrop to the evolution of international economic law in the post-war period and have been critical components of the process of economic globalization. Contributors to this collection explore the different dimensions of natural resource governance in the contemporary economic, political and legal landscape. They reflect upon and address the different aspects of the conflicts and contradictions arising at the intersection between international economic law, sustainable development and other areas of international law, notably human rights law and environmental law.