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Claire O’Manique, James K Rowe and Karena Shaw
Endless economic growth on a finite planet is impossible. This is the premise behind the degrowth movement. Despite this sound rationale, the degrowth movement has struggled to gain political acceptability. We have sought to understand this limited uptake of degrowth discourse in the English-speaking world by interviewing Canadian activists. Activists have a proximity to the political realm – both with its barriers and openings – that scholars working primarily in academic institutions sometimes lack. Our interviews reveal that class interests – particularly those of fossil fuel companies – are a substantial barrier to realizing degrowth goals. Interviewees highlighted the importance of centring class-conscious environmentalism, ‘anti-purity’ politics, and decolonization as essential parts of a degrowth agenda capable of overcoming these class interests. We conclude by unpacking how the Green New Deal – a discourse and movement that gained considerable traction after we completed our interviews – addresses the obstacles shared by our interviewees, thus making it a promising ‘non-reformist reform’ for the degrowth movement to pursue.
Edited by Anna Grear
Amaya Álvez-Marín, Camila Bañales-Seguel, Rodrigo Castillo, Claudia Acuña-Molina and Pablo Torres
Diverse existing legal paradigms have dealt with the interaction of humans and Nature in different ways. We identify three main lenses through which current constitutional systems in Latin America have operated to resolve conflicts. We focus on rivers as emblematic elements of Nature that offer concrete possibilities to operationalize an emerging paradigm that recognizes legal personhood for Nature. The objective is to examine, from a critical interdisciplinary perspective, the existing paradigms, describe their limits and open the debate to alternative jurisdictional venues for favouring the coexistence of humans and natural systems. Through the comparative analysis of three case studies in Chile, Colombia and Ecuador, we outline the challenges and opportunities offered by an emerging legal tradition, ‘The New Latin American Constitutionalism’, and question what would effectively be different with a change of paradigm towards the recognition of Nature’s rights.
Yaffa Epstein and Hendrik Schoukens
A growing number of jurisdictions throughout the world have recognized some type of legal rights of nature. This jurisprudential trend has thus far made few inroads in Europe. However, its apparent absence is misleading. In this article we argue that, explicit or not, nature as protected by European Union (EU) law already has certain legal rights in the Hohfeldian sense because other entities have legal obligations towards it. Moreover, we argue that recent decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU can be interpreted to support our claim that nature, as protected by EU law, already enjoys some legal rights that cannot be trumped by mere utilitarian interests, and that these rights can in turn be recognized and applied by national courts. We further suggest that public interest litigation can contribute to developing rights for nature in Europe, even absent any explicit recognition of these rights in EU law or in national legislation.
Rosemary J Coombe and David J Jefferson
In a decolonial determination to resist the modern ontological separation of nature from culture, political ontologies and posthuman legalities in Andean Community countries increasingly recognize natural and cultural forces as inextricably interrelated under the principle of the pluriverse. After years of Indigenous struggles, new social movement mobilizations and citizen activism, twenty-first-century constitutional changes in the region have affirmed the plurinational and intercultural natures of the region’s polities. Drawing upon extensive interdisciplinary ethnographic research in Ecuador and Colombia, the article illustrates how Indigenous, Afro-descendant and campesino communities express multispecies relations of care and conviviality in opposition to modern extractivist development through the concept of buen vivir. These grassroots collective life projects and life plans articulate rights ‘from below’ to support new practices of territorialization that further materialize natures’ rights and community ideals. Although human rights have modern origins, the implementation of third generation collective biocultural rights to fulfill natures’ rights may help to materially realize community norms, autonomies and responsibilities that exceed modern ontologies. The ecocentric territorial rights struggles and posthuman legalities we explore are examples of a larger emergent project of decolonizing human rights in a politics appropriate to the Anthropocene.
Manuela Niehaus and Kirsten Davies
In September 2019, over four million people, in an estimated 185 countries worldwide, marched for better climate policies and their enforcement in a global climate strike. This is an example of the global community, particularly young people, rising up and demanding climate action to protect their threatened future. The world community has experienced ‘rights-based’ community uprisings in the past, for example, anti-nuclear protests and movements for women’s rights. These uprisings have often led to changes in values, attitudes and behaviour, changes that have underpinned new laws, policies and practices. This article discusses how social movements and climate litigation activisms can influence and foster stronger climate policies and considers where current community climate uprisings will lead, in the context of climate and human rights law. The article explores whether these uprisings can embrace the ‘voiceless’ – future generations and nature – by giving them a meaningful voice in the service of urgently required climate action and legal protection of the planetary future.
Marine invasive alien species are sea-based organisms that are non-native to a marine ecosystem, and which can or have spread to a degree that has an adverse impact on biodiversity and human livelihoods. In a globalized and inter-connected world, the threats posed by marine invasive alien species are here to stay. Accordingly, it often has been lamented that the threats from marine alien species are too difficult to combat effectively. In Australia, these threats are exacerbated by the country's unique characteristics such as its sheer size, as well as its geographical and historical isolation from the rest of the world. More importantly for the purposes of this article, Australia's unique constitutional framework that entrenches its national system of federalism has led to complex power-sharing arrangements between the Commonwealth, and the State and Territory governments in the management of invasive alien species, which are arguably inadequate to combat marine invasive alien species effectively. In Australia, laws have been made to manage only one vector of marine invasive species, ballast water from vessels, but not for other vectors. This article analyses how marine invasive alien species are currently managed within the Australian legal framework, and discusses what can be done to improve the status quo in order effectively to control the spread of such foreign organisms. It argues with optimism that marine invasive alien species can be effectively managed under a strong legal framework that seeks to prevent their occurrence and minimize the negative impacts of their occurrence. Such a legal framework consists of sound domestic laws and institutions, the effects of which can be enhanced by greater international cooperation.
Amiel Ian Valdez
The era of super typhoons is here and is predicted to linger due to anthropogenic climate change. Disasters triggered by these typhoons have caused not only loss of lives, but also displacements of people who are left without houses, properties and livelihoods. Using the Philippine experience, this article examines the legal standard of right to adequate housing under the international human rights law and international climate change law, and the Philippines' commitments to these regimes. It argues that the Philippine government's post-typhoon responses are fragmented, reactive, and ephemeral, and that there are gaps in the current housing laws. It is then argued that these issues are incongruent with the minimum standards of adequate housing. To ensure that the housing rights of climate displaced persons are protected, the role of domestic courts in enforcing the government's adaptation commitments under the Paris Agreement using the writ of continuing mandamus is considered.