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Evan Hamman

Abstract

This article provides an analysis of the environmental challenges presented by coastal development on the Chinese coast of the Yellow Sea, and, in particular, its effect on migratory shorebirds. It reflects on the rate of coastal development in China and its impact on intertidal wetlands, including what is being done, from a legal perspective, to address the declines. Existing regulatory measures are examined and it is argued that strategic environmental assessment needs to be given greater attention by the Chinese authorities. In addition, principles of conservation such as participatory management need to be fully embraced to empower local communities to restore degraded sites, monitor birdlife, and, where necessary, challenge inappropriate development activities through the courts. These initiatives, coupled with the eventual enactment of a new national wetland law in China, should strengthen the response to the threats and help arrest some of the declines in shorebird populations.

Ben Boer, Benoit Mayer and Tianbao Qin

Brian J Preston

Abstract

Litigation raising climate change issues has increased in the number and types of cases across a growing number of national and international jurisdictions. An emergent trend is litigation that invokes particular legal rights to address climate change issues. Referred to collectively in this article as ‘environmental rights,’ these include rights established under the public trust doctrine, as well as within the realms of constitutional and human rights, including the right to life and right to a quality environment. This article surveys the development of climate change litigation—in various jurisdictions around the world—in which parties have sought to invoke these environmental rights. In addition to examining how climate change litigation has adapted rights-based claims made in earlier, more traditional litigation, this article reviews recent significant cases and examines how this growing body of case law is contributing to an expansion in the content of fundamental rights in the climate change context.

David J Devlaeminck

Abstract

The legal principle of reciprocity plays a strong role in the law of international watercourses in both bilateral and multilateral contexts. China, primarily an upstream state, shares transboundary rivers with 14 neighbouring states. These shared rivers are governed by a variety of treaties and soft law documents, with China preferring to take a bilateral approach. Building on previous research, this article aims to elaborate on the role that reciprocity has played in the development, maintenance and interpretation of the law of international watercourses and then applies this to China’s transboundary water treaties. For these purposes, this analysis focuses on China’s approach to sovereignty on its transboundary waters and the substantive, procedural and dispute settlement rules of China’s transboundary treaties, as well as future developments, including the influence of the concept of ‘common interests’ on China’s practices. There have been significant developments in China’s transboundary water cooperation, as transboundary waters are increasingly important for China’s development. The article concludes with the example of the China-led Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Mechanism, highlighting its reciprocal characteristics and pathways for future development.

Benjamin J. Richardson

Climate change has multifaceted aesthetic dimensions of legal significance. Global warming alters the aesthetic properties of nature, and further aesthetic changes are precipitated by climate mitigation and adaptation responses of impacted societies. The social and political struggles to influence climate change law are also influenced by aesthetics, as environmental activists and artists collaborate to influence public opinion, while conversely the business sector through its marketing and other aesthetic communications tries to persuade consumers of its climate-friendly practices to forestall serious action on global warming. This article distils and analyses these patterns in forging a novel account of the role of aesthetics in climate change law and policy, and it makes conclusions on how this field of law should consider aesthetic values through ‘curatorial’ guidance.

Ronald B. Mitchell

Climate law has become a vibrant legal field, offering scholars and practitioners increasingly deep analyses of what climate law is, how it is changing, what is driving those changes, and what those changes mean at the international, national, and local level. The field has elaborated and debated numerous climate-specific issues, including geoengineering, adaptation, and loss and damage. Scholars also have analysed the application of broad legal principles to the climate realm and have examined the intersection of climate law with other disciplines, especially economics and political science. I review these important accomplishments and then argue that the field could build on them in two ways. First, many opportunities exist to incorporate insights from economics, political science, and other disciplines, increasing the range of perspectives reflected in our understanding of how climate law works and how it might be improved. Second, opportunities exist for climate law to learn more from experience with other realms of environmental and non-environmental law as well as with other forms of governance. Pursuing both types of opportunities can foster the field’s continuing development.

Alexander Zahar

Benoit Mayer’s new book The International Law on Climate Change is founded on the premise that the principle against transboundary harm is the core principle of climate law. Here, I show that premise to be mistaken. The principle against transboundary harm does not apply to the problem of climate change because climate change is not a transboundary problem. Even if the principle were applicable to climate change, it has been displaced by the climate change treaty regime. Because climate change is in fact a “commons” problem, the core principle of climate law is, or should be, that greenhouse gas emissions must be charged to the polluter (the polluter pays principle).