The planetary boundaries framework informs us that the Earth system is adversely impacted by human activities, which in turn endangers human life on Earth. However, as Steffen et al pointed out in their 2015 update of the planetary boundaries framework, given that not all humans, historically or extant, contribute equally to the transgression of planetary boundaries, this message involves deeper issues of equity and causation which planetary boundaries research, as such, does not address. Ellen Hey suggests in Chapter 9 that adding teleconnections as a conceptual framework to our analytical toolkit, has the potential to add nuance to our analysis by pointing to the deeper issues of equity and causation within the context of the planetary boundaries. She uses the concept of teleconnections to show how, despite its inter-state nature, the international law-based free trade rule connects producers anywhere on Earth to consumers everywhere on Earth. The concept of teleconnections enables the identification of localities at which harm to the Earth system arises (such as the production of soy in the Amazon) and facilitates linking these to the root causes of that harm (for example, meat consumption in China and Europe), which are often located elsewhere.
This Chapter illustrates how the procedural environmental rights introduced by the Aarhus Convention have facilitated the shaping of an ‘Aarhus space’ in which human rights and the environment are able to interact in Europe. The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union have each contributed to the shaping of this ‘Aarhus space’, in particular by using teleological means of interpretation. The Chapter suggests that within the ‘Aarhus space’ individuals and groups in society are exercising their right to protect the environment. What individuals and groups are implicitly claiming in relevant cases is that public authorities are hampering them in the exercise of this right, because authorities are not providing them with information, do not allow them to participate in decision-making or impede their access to justice. Individuals and groups then are not seeking to protect their own substantive rights, even if these may play a role in a given case, but rather the protection of the environment. The ‘Aarhus space’ thereby can be characterized as mostly eco-centric.