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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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Edited by Anna Grear

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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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Peter H Sand

This article begins with an assessment of an elderly wildlife-related treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 1973 (CITES), and explains both how the convention was originally designed and how its Parties managed to develop it in innovative ways not envisaged by the original drafters. The article then turns to an assessment of the effectiveness of the convention in the modern world, and how an enforcement regime based on trade embargoes has been developed. This success, at least measured by indicators such as length of time it takes for states subject to sanctions to fall back into compliance, aside, the article then proceeds to question effectiveness as measured by indicators with less ‘high face validity’. Through close analysis of the history of trade embargoes, it is demonstrated that by and large it is developing countries that have been the subjects of sanctions under CITES. In view of recent enforcement issues (illustrated by current whaling in the North Pacific), the article concludes by highlighting the quality of trust which, it is argued, is a critical requirement that must underpin the international regime if there is to be true legitimacy and, ultimately, credibility.

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Edited by Ed Couzens and Tim Stephens

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Kerryn Anne Brent

The customary law duty to prevent significant transboundary harm and harm to the global commons (‘no-harm’ rule) has developed considerably since it was first enunciated in the 1938/1941 Trail Smelter arbitration. This article reflects on this development and analyses what implications the 2015 Certain Activities case has for existing understandings of the no-harm rule. The International Court of Justice (ICJ)'s judgment provides greater clarity concerning procedural obligations flowing from the no-harm rule by establishing a positive obligation to ascertain risk and a sequence in which procedural obligations arise. However, it raises questions concerning the nature of the substantive obligation under the no-harm rule. Specifically, whether breach of the substantive obligation is subject to establishing that an activity has resulted in significant transboundary harm. The ambiguity in the Certain Activities case highlights the need to further clarify and develop the content of the no-harm rule to better enable it to contribute to the governance of contemporary transboundary and global environmental problems.

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Preface

Challenges and Opportunities

Edited by K. N. Ninan and Makoto Inoue

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Introduction

Challenges and Opportunities

K.N. Ninan and Makoto Inoue

Climate change poses a great challenge to governments, societies and entities. This chapter discusses the need for building climate resilience, approaches for building climate resilience and the challenges and opportunities for building resilience to address the risks posed by climate change. It then discusses issues related to vulnerability, adaptation and resilience, sectoral perspectives, incentives, institutions, REDD+, local climate finance, and climate policy.

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Foreword

Challenges and Opportunities

Sir Robert T. Watson

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Abbreviations and acronyms

Challenges and Opportunities

Edited by K. N. Ninan and Makoto Inoue