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Kathryn McCallum

The recent surge in pollution-related protests, together with State recognition of China's worsening environmental problems, have created an opportunity for radical change to environmental governance in China. The long-anticipated revision to the Environmental Protection Law in 2014 introduced a powerful new enforcement tool: public interest litigation. From interviews with Chinese legal academics and public interest lawyers, this article presents some of the first academic research into the new public interest litigation system under the revised law, which came into force on 1 January 2015. Between them, two of the NGOs that the author interviewed – Friends of Nature and the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation – filed two thirds of the 45 environmental public interest cases accepted by the courts in 2015 that were brought by an NGO. The key finding from this research is that for public interest litigation to be successful in addressing China's worsening environmental problems, standing must be expanded under China's administrative law to allow non-governmental organisations to sue local government authorities who fail to properly enforce environmental laws.

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Edited by Ed Couzens and Tim Stephens

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Tapas Kumar Sarangi

In protected areas, natural resources support the livelihood needs of local communities, but human activity affects wildlife survival and biodiversity conservation, and leads to serious conflict between conservation and livelihood. India has some of the best environmental and human rights legislation, but implementation is very often poor at the ground level. In India, the recently enacted Forest Rights Act 2006 (the FRA) has been in effect since 2008. This Act recognises the basic livelihood rights of forest dwellers, but its implementation is besieged by several problems at various institutional levels. With special reference to the FRA in protected areas in Odisha, this article discusses the conflict between conservation effort and livelihoods of the local populace, while suggesting ways to strengthen livelihoods. The proper implementation of the FRA not only provides stable property rights on forest land but enforces the entitlement of forest dwellers to various forest produce. This entitlement may operate to reduce the conflict between conservation and livelihoods inside the protected areas.

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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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David Leary

This article provides an update on recent developments in wind energy use in the coastal zone (both onshore and offshore) in the Asia-Pacific region with a particular focus on China, South Korea, Japan and Australia. The focus of the article is on legal and policy measures in these jurisdictions relevant to recent developments in wind energy in the coastal zone. It argues that a range of policy measures, especially market-based mechanisms built around obligations to purchase renewable energy, including portfolio standard or quota systems, feed-in tariffs and renewable energy targets have been central to the promotion of renewable energy more broadly, and wind energy in the coastal zone in particular. However, all jurisdictions have experienced some measure of policy inconsistency as significant changes or abolition of various marketplace mechanisms have occurred over the past decade. This is contrary to industry demands for policy certainty. The article also examines the central role of environmental impact assessment in development of renewable energy projects in the coastal zone.

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Maureen Papas

The year 2015 marked a defining moment in the global quest for a sustainable future. First, on 25 September world leaders met at the United Nations (UN) Summit in New York, where they formally adopted the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — Transforming Our World (2030 Agenda) has a broad remit and provides a road map for global development efforts in response to the many challenges facing the world today. Second, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 195 countries reached an historic new climate change agreement in Paris on 12 December, marking the first meaningful progress in this area for some years. These two documents are inexorably interrelated by their objectives, their prospective and global focus, although developed by two different processes. Climate change is a long-term problem with a range of temporal effects that will have significant effects on the achievement of sustainable development (SD). Australia, as one of the driest inhabited countries, whose economic development relies on sound management of water and land use, has a great deal to gain from combatting climate change. Australian climate policy and progress in implementing its targets could meaningfully contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda through critical activities actioned in the context of the new Paris Agreement. This article reviews the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement and provides critical analysis of how the Paris Agreement can deliver more effective measures to combat climate change in Australia. The Paris Agreement can drive certain actions but further action is required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda targets. Australia could set the level of ambition needed to achieve meaningful progress towards climate change, but this must be backed by political will.

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Edward Davey

This article addresses the challenge of tropical forest conservation and sustainable forest management, an issue that is faced by a number of states in the Asian Pacific and connects with broader regional issues because of the linkages with transboundary haze pollution. The article begins with a snapshot of the value of forests and of the problems they currently face; then considers the role of REDD+ in the protection of forests, focusing particularly on the rights of indigenous peoples, and the valuable role that they might play if their rights are given greater recognition. The article concludes by proposing a ten-point plan that could be applied to enhance the protection of forests.

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Dayna Nadine Scott and Adrian A Smith

A controversial proposal to build the mammoth ‘Site C’ dam on the Peace River in northwestern Canada offers an opportunity to explore the intersections of climate and migration issues under debate in international environmental governance circles. Site C threatens to flood traditional fishing spots and traplines of Indigenous peoples in the name of the ‘green energy’ economy. We consider how people displaced by renewable energy projects justified as climate mitigation policies might constitute a different kind of ‘climate refugee’ in that they are ‘displaced without moving’ – the connections between the land and the people are severed to the extent that what is lost is the ability of the people to sustain themselves in a place. We demonstrate that the focus on ‘security’ and ‘risk’ in dominant approaches to the phenomenon of climate migration within the international regimes of human rights and climate governance produces contemporary commitments to ‘migration management’ and a prescription for ‘planned relocations’ that employ an abstract conception of the ‘climate migrant’. The analysis reveals that the dominant international legal order on climate migration is devoid of meaningful consideration of ongoing, embodied practices of living on the land. Its abstract, universalist conceptions of land, labour and livelihoods deny the possibility of people's meaningful relations with specific places and obscure the actual ‘loss and damage’ that transpires when real, material and ecological relations that ground people's connections with land are severed. We conclude that, without concerted resistance and a focus on re-making the underlying structural relations, a policy emphasis on renewable energy development as ‘climate mitigation’ is likely to continue to produce the same inequitable patterns of benefits and burdens as climate change itself.