Special Issue "Climate Change and International Economic Law: Chiasms and Complementarities"

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2015).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Sonia E. Rolland
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Visiting Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, 600 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
2. Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director of LLM and International Programs, Northeastern University School of Law 400 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Tel. +1 (617) 373-7331
Interests: public international law; trade law; sustainable development; international environmental law; international institutions and governance; international relations and political science

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The relationship between international environmental regulation and global economic governance has long been seen as replete with conflicting discourses with missed opportunities for cooperation. However, the concerns surrounding climate change make a pressing case for a more coherent approach.

While international economic law and multilateral efforts to regulate climate change mutually acknowledge each other, neither is really designed to account for the other’s objectives. As a result, environmental measures often have to be justified as exceptions to trade disciplines, or come second to investor expectations of benefits in international investment law. At the same time, trade and investment help to disseminate clean energy technologies and make environmental goods and services more accessible to a greater number of consumers and businesses. International finance also acts as a vector to facilitate trade and investment transactions in products and technologies that might help mitigate or remedy our climate impact. In fact, the intent of trade and investment treaties is explicitly the promotion of sustainable development. This suggests that economic development and environmental sustainability, including as it relates to climate change, are actually meant to be complementary. An optimistic view, then, might construe the tensions between the two regimes as mostly the result of outdated path dependent interpretation and implementation shortcomings that should now evolve towards a more holistic approach.

Some prominent trade and environmental scholars have delved into these issues over the past 20 years. Yet, we are now facing additional challenges as the very fabric of international economic regulation is undergoing major transformations. Will the trends towards trade and investment regional agreements create opportunities for a better consideration of the climate impacts of economic activities? Will the increased voices from large emerging countries propose alternative models for managing the relationship between climate regulation and economic law? More generally, what will be the impact of the apparent retrenchment from multilateralism in trade and climate regulation, as both the WTO and the UNFCCC frameworks are unable to act as effective forums for implementing the next steps? In the face of deadlocks at the multilateral level both with respect to climate regulation and trade regulation, are states undertaking unilateral actions to protect the environment through economic law instruments? The EU’s attempt at regulating airline emissions is an example.

Meanwhile, political scientists have developed a substantial literature on governance dynamics in the face of scientific uncertainty and collective action problems such as those raised by international coordination in response to climate change.  Can we draw lessons from this research to help devise a more effective approach to climate change domestically and internationally?

This Special Issue aims to bring together a broad range of perspectives, including law, economics, and political science, pertaining to the future avenues for a symbiotic relationship between climate regulation and international economic law. Submissions in two main areas are encouraged:

  • Cross-cutting regulatory and governance tools for climate change that reflect the current shifts in state balance of power, public-private instruments, trade and investment instruments, and the renewed interest in the regulation of international finance.
  • Subject-matter specific law and policy tools at the intersection of economic law and climate change including those that relate to energy; water; fisheries, forestry/timber and other natural resources threatened by climate change.

Collaborations between legal scholars and social scientists or STEM are encouraged. This Special Issue also particularly welcomes views form different regions of the globe.

Prof. Sonia E. Rolland
Guest Editor

References:

Harriet Bulkeley, Liliana Andonova, Michele M. Betsill, Daniel Compagnon, Thomas Hale, Matthew J. Hoffmann, Peter Newell, Matthew Paterson, Charles Roger, and Stacy D. VanDeveer, eds. Transnational Climate Change Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Bradly J. Condon, and Tapen Sinha, eds. The Role of Climate Change in Global Economic Governance. Oxford: Oxford Uuniversity Press, 2013.

Rosemary Gail Rayfuse, and Shirley V. Scott, eds. International Law in the Era of Climate Change. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012.

Felli, Romain. “Cosmopolitan Solutions ‘From Below’: Climate Change, International Law and the Capitalist Challenge.” In Ethics and Global Environmental Policy. Edited by Paul G. Harris. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011.

Fiona Marshall, Aaron Cosbey, and Deborah Murphy. Climate Change and International Investment Agreements Obstacles or Opportunities? Winnipeg: International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2010.

Thomas Cottier, Olga Nartova, and Sadeq Z. Bigdeli, eds. International Trade Regulation and Mitigation of Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Edith Brown Weiss. “Climate Change, Intergenerational Equity, and International Law.” The Vermont Journal of Environmental Law 9 (2008): 615–27.

Eric Bluemel. “Unraveling the Global Warming Regime Complex: Competitive Entropy in the Regulation of the Global Public Good.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 155 (2007): 1981–2049.

Jeremy Baskin. “The Impossible Necessity of Climate Justice?” Melbourne Journal of International Law 10 (2009): 424–39.

Jacqueline Peel. The Precautionary Principle in Practice: Environmental Decision-Making and Scientific Uncertainty. Annandale: Federation Press, 2005.

Bradnee W. Chambers, ed. Inter-linkages: The Kyoto Protocol and the International Trade and Investment Regimes. New York: New York University Press, 2001.

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Laws is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • climate change governance
  • adaptation and mitigation
  • foreign investment
  • trade
  • international financing
  • sustainable development
  • risk scientific uncertainty and the law

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Climate-Related Standards and Multilateral Finance for Development
Laws 2015, 4(4), 674-690; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4040674 - 19 Oct 2015
Abstract
This article discusses climate-related standards that development finance institutions establish or apply to projects supported by their investments. It focuses particularly on multilateral development banks given their major role in providing finance to developing countries, where the bulk of the world’s fastest growing [...] Read more.
This article discusses climate-related standards that development finance institutions establish or apply to projects supported by their investments. It focuses particularly on multilateral development banks given their major role in providing finance to developing countries, where the bulk of the world’s fastest growing emissions are taking place. It looks at proposed and recently adopted standards, as well as different perspectives developed and developing countries have regarding these standards. It also discusses how these standards might be impacted by the evolution of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations and concludes that there will be continuing challenges to implement these standards unless developed countries fulfill their pledge of expected finance. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Polluter-Pays-Principle: The Cardinal Instrument for Addressing Climate Change
Laws 2015, 4(3), 638-653; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4030638 - 23 Sep 2015
Cited by 4
Abstract
This article traces the evolution of polluter-pays-principle (PPP) as an economic, ethical and legal instrument and argues that it has the potential of effecting global responsibility for adaptation and mitigation and for generating reliable funding for the purpose. However, the contradiction is that [...] Read more.
This article traces the evolution of polluter-pays-principle (PPP) as an economic, ethical and legal instrument and argues that it has the potential of effecting global responsibility for adaptation and mitigation and for generating reliable funding for the purpose. However, the contradiction is that while it rests on neoliberal market principles, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change did not include the PPP as its provision though the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility based on respective capabilities” (Article 3.1) implicitly recognizes this. The article raises the basic question that under a free-market global system: why should the polluters not take responsibility of their actions so that the global society does not suffer? The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries apply this PPP in many of its forms. Some developing countries are also applying it albeit still more as a governmental rather than polluter responsibility. Currently there is an emerging consensus that a carbon tax should be applied globally to address the intractable problem of climate change. Since the problem relates to a global commons, the issue is how to apply the PPP globally yet equitably. This article brings in Caney’s proposal that as complementary to the PPP. The “ability to pay principle” (APP) can take care of emissions of the past agreed by the Parties and current and future legitimate emissions of the disadvantaged countries and groups of people. He calls the latter poverty-sensitive PPP. While PPP is primarily a market principle, APP is a principle of justice and equity. That polluters should pay the social and environmental costs of their pollution reflects the most fundamental principles of justice and responsibility. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Access to Minerals: WTO Export Restrictions and Climate Change Considerations
Laws 2015, 4(3), 617-637; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4030617 - 22 Sep 2015
Cited by 1
Abstract
In the past few years, the Chinese government opted to restrict the export of selected minerals on environmental and health grounds, subsequently leading to an uproar in countries and regions that rely heavily on imports from China to develop their renewable industry sector. [...] Read more.
In the past few years, the Chinese government opted to restrict the export of selected minerals on environmental and health grounds, subsequently leading to an uproar in countries and regions that rely heavily on imports from China to develop their renewable industry sector. This paper places the focus on the law and policy of the Chinese export restrictions of critical minerals, and its implications for the global renewables energy industry. The paper critically assesses how such export restrictions have been dealt with under the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Drawing on this WTO jurisprudence, we posit that litigation on export restrictions of the kind imposed by China poses a threat to the legitimacy of the WTO. We therefore conclude by exploring whether there are any alternatives to litigation as a means to deal with countries choosing to impose mineral export restrictions. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Is There Room for Coherence in Climate Financial Assistance?
Laws 2015, 4(3), 541-558; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4030541 - 24 Aug 2015
Cited by 2
Abstract
This article takes a closer look at the complex web of financial assistance mechanisms in the climate change sector. These mechanisms are important tools for assisting developing countries to address the challenges associated with climate change. Mapping the various types of institutions and [...] Read more.
This article takes a closer look at the complex web of financial assistance mechanisms in the climate change sector. These mechanisms are important tools for assisting developing countries to address the challenges associated with climate change. Mapping the various types of institutions and funds in this sector, the author underlines the important role played by the private sector but also highlights the increasing presence of financial mechanisms under the aegis of international organizations, such as the World Bank. Moreover, a particular focus is placed on the Green Climate Fund and the way in which the establishment of this mechanism may affect the functioning of existing financial mechanisms. In calling for better communication, coordination, and coherence among these actors and mechanisms, the author suggests that these ends may be achieved by placing an emphasis on plurality, complementarity, and mutual support through, inter alia, more effective policy oversight and enhanced inter-institutional relations. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Renewables, Preferential Trade Agreements and EU Energy Security
Laws 2015, 4(3), 472-514; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4030472 - 07 Aug 2015
Abstract
A major aim of the international community is to decarbonize the economy. With renewables, international trade in energy is likely to increase. In turn, the international trading system can be a major vehicle towards moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. To [...] Read more.
A major aim of the international community is to decarbonize the economy. With renewables, international trade in energy is likely to increase. In turn, the international trading system can be a major vehicle towards moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. To this end, it can provide fair competition, economies of scale and knowledge transfer. This article analyzes the impact of European Union (EU) preferential trade agreements (PTAs) in addressing climate change mitigation and energy security by promoting renewables. Currently, there is a proliferation of PTAs; this trend seems irreversible and is likely to persist, given the current crisis in the multilateral trading system. We argue that the EU can, through its network of PTAs, move towards greater energy independence as renewable energy becomes increasingly economically viable. This article provides a thorough review of the renewable energy-related provisions in the EU’s current PTAs and recommends three tangible ways through which the EU could capitalize its vast network of PTAs to boost the renewable energy market. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Enforcement Issues in the Governance of Ships’ Carbon Emissions
Laws 2015, 4(3), 335-351; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4030335 - 24 Jul 2015
Abstract
The shipping industry, although relatively carbon-efficient, is projected to produce rising carbon emissions in the future as a consequence of increasing world trade. A number of candidate regulations designed to mitigate these emissions have been canvassed by the UN’s International Maritime Organisation and [...] Read more.
The shipping industry, although relatively carbon-efficient, is projected to produce rising carbon emissions in the future as a consequence of increasing world trade. A number of candidate regulations designed to mitigate these emissions have been canvassed by the UN’s International Maritime Organisation and by the European Commission. Many of these schemes are focussed on the use of market measures—emission trading schemes or fuel levies. This paper draws on observational and interview data gathered to examine enforcement issues associated with the control of ships’ sulphur emissions in order to consider the possible enforcement problems that might be associated with projected market measures to control ships’ carbon emissions. Enforcement problems are shown to be associated with the globalised character of the industry and its polycentric governance structure. Full article
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