Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Please note that all times are shown in the time zone of the conference. The current conference time is: 21st Mar 2023, 08:53:06pm EDT

Session Overview
Real world applications of Earth system law (ID514)
Friday, 21/Oct/2022:
10:00am - 11:30am

Session Chair: Steve Lorteau
Session Conference Streams:
Architecture and Agency

Online Panel Session

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Enhanced for whom? The politics of the Paris Agreement’s ‘Enhanced Transparency Framework’

Max van Deursen, Aarti Gupta

Wageningen University and Research

Transparency systems are central elements of global governance architectures that aim to accelerate sustainability transitions. The proliferation of digital technologies to monitor socio-environmental indicators may further drive this trend. Typically, the generation and/or disclosure of information is framed as a neutral means to facilitate targeted action and sound decision making. However, building on critical transparency literature, information disclosure can also be understood as a form of governance in and of itself. This paper draws on the latter understanding to examine the politics of transparency architectures, taking the global transparency systems of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the object of study. Global transparency mechanisms that aim to ‘make visible’ how countries perform vis-à-vis their climate targets have evolved rapidly over the past decade. Negotiations over the design of a climate transparency framework involved difficult trade-offs between developed countries’ desire for a common framework and developing countries’ reluctance to be subjected to stringent transparency obligations. Historically, the burden of climate transparency has rested largely upon developed countries. The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement introduced an ‘Enhanced Transparency Framework’ applicable to all countries. This enhanced framework implies an increase in scope and stringency of transparency obligations for both developed and developing countries, with the assumption that this will facilitate greater climate action from all. Yet, is this the case? Does the Paris Agreement’s Enhanced Transparency Framework indeed call for ‘enhanced’ transparency from all, or are there also instances of regression in transparency obligations for developed countries, with enhancement targeting mainly developing countries? This remains little analyzed. Drawing on primary and secondary document analysis and interviews, we undertake an in-depth empirical analysis of the extent to which transparency obligations under the Paris Agreement are enhanced and for whom, with implications for the nature and extent of the climate action from all that such transparency is assumed to facilitate. Our analysis shows that ‘enhancement’ of transparency obligations are a site of contested global climate politics, rather than a neutral means through which to transcend political conflicts. Our analysis thus critically interrogates the widely assumed transformative potential of transparency in global climate governance, showing instead where the burden of transparency may unjustly come to rest, in practice. In doing so, it contributes to earth system governance scholarship on accountability, power and justice in global sustainability governance, and to the 2022 conference theme of enabling more just transitions to sustainability.

Operationalizing nexus governance at a planetary scale: An earth system law perspective

Louis J. Kotzé1, Rakhyun E. Kim2

1North-West University (NWU), South Africa; 2Utrecht University, Netherlands

Nexus governance recognises that sustainability concerns such as water, energy, and food security are all interlinked, and provides an alternative to the fragmented regulatory approach that treats these concerns as distinct and unrelated issues. The need for nexus governance is also becoming increasingly apparent at a planetary scale. However, international environmental law remains sectorally fragmented in the absence of an overarching norm that would bring together myriad international environmental institutions. Recognizing such a shortcoming, a group of scholars have recently proposed earth system law as a framework to rethink law in an earth system context. Here we build on the emerging literature and argue that international environmental law’s full potential would be realised if it were itself to embrace a perspective that is commensurate with the nexus governance demands of an interconnected earth system. More specifically, we point to international institutional law, a body of law governing the relationship between international institutions, as holding the key to operationalizing nexus governance at a planetary scale. By so doing, this article contributes to the emerging earth system law discourse by reflecting on how an earth system law approach to some of the international legal norms governing water, energy, and food could better facilitate nexus governance at a planetary scale.

The Emerging Network of Transnational Climate Litigation

Steve Lorteau1, Rakhyun E. Kim2

1University of Toronto, Canada; 2Utrecht University, Netherlands

In recent years, climate litigation has grown considerably in scope and diversity in many jurisdictions. Judicial decisions on issues of climate change refer to one another, mostly within one’s jurisdiction, but increasingly to decisions made in other jurisdictions. This practice has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, to the extent they create what one might call a transnational legal field in the form of climate litigation network. Yet, how has this network emerged and evolved? Which cases are most influential on a transnational stage, and why? How do norms flow and diffuse on the network? To address these questions, this study uncovers, for the first time, the network structure of the emerging climate litigation system, and conducts network analysis complemented by content analysis of individual litigation cases. The resulting climate litigation network consists of at least 800 national and international cases from 1990 to 2021 connected through roughly 2300 cross-references, and the network is growing rapidly. The study quantified the evolutionary dynamics, the relative influence of particular jurisdictions, and the cross-jurisdictional diffusion of climate litigation. This study reveals key conceptual and pedagogical insights into the growth of climate litigation and the canon of climate change jurisprudence. Notably, the global climate litigation has expanded considerably in the past decade, especially following the Paris Agreement. Much of the network relates to four themes: land use law, state regulatory shortcomings, constitutional law, and the EU Emissions Trading System. The network also provides empirical evidence of domestic and international norm diffusion. The United States, the European Court of Justice, and the United Kingdom account for most cross-references, but contribute to a comparatively small portion of transnational cross-references. In contrast, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are major contributors to the transnational network. This study highlights the complex networked structure of climate change jurisprudence and the role of cascading legal precedents in shaping the future of climate litigation.

The qualitative and quantitative aspects of law’s contribution to climate change adaptation

Margot Hurlbert

University of Regina, Canada

As the world is confronted with the complex problem of climate change, and the increasing frequency and intensity of heat spells, droughts, and floods, our ability to respond and adapt to these changes becomes increasingly important. The changes are systemic (affecting many social structures), complex (cascading thorough different sectors system, and geographies) and contested (as different responses are not always agreed upon).

While adaptation governance has been a focus of adaptation scholarship, the role of law in mediating and improving resilience, or becoming a barrier or ‘hard’ limit to adaptation, is just emerging in study. Qualitative methods are essential to determine which laws address adaptation to extreme events (preventative measures building capacity and resilience to increasing aridity, drought, floods, and fires) by studying the framing and nesting of policy problems. However, assessing the degree of resilience and the extent of capacity to respond to the increasing impacts of climate change, and assessing ‘risk’ relies on quantification of vulnerability, exposure and capacity. Similarly, law’s contribution to adaptation can be, and is increasingly informed by quantitative risk assessments. This paper reviews scholarship surrounding law and adaptation from both a qualitative and quantitative analysis. Illustrative case studies of adaptation law from Canada, Argentina, and Chile demonstrate potential for both qualitative and quantitative methods. While important formative work is occurring in Earth System Governance, more possibilities for future Earth System Law scholarship are outlined.

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