Benoît Mayer

Benoit Mayer

Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy as a Special Administrative Region of China. Unlike China itself, Hong Kong is not a party to international climate change agreements. While China has declared that the Paris Agreement and other climate change agreements apply to Hong Kong, the implementation measures for Mainland China in fact do not apply to Hong Kong. Its unique position under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle has frequently led to Hong Kong being left out of international cooperation on climate change mitigation. Nevertheless, as this article recounts, the government of Hong Kong has shown increasing interest in promoting climate change mitigation—or at least in being seen to do so. In January 2017, Hong Kong adopted the ‘Climate Action Plan 2030+’, which is, in essence, a regionally determined contribution to mitigation.1

Benoit Mayer

What are we trying to achieve through our scholarship? It appears that most scholarship in climate law seeks to describe ongoing developments by using, inter alia, doctrinal and comparative methodologies. This article argues that, in addition to these ‘mainstream’ scholarly interventions, a critical scholarship in climate law should be, and is, developing. By questioning the assumptions on which climate law is developed, assessing the relations between law and power, or revealing long-overlooked paradoxes, among other topics, critical scholarship broadly conceived could provide innovative and interesting insights that help to achieve a more complete understanding of climate law.

Benoit Mayer

In his essay on the thesis of my book, Alexander Zahar objects to my characterization of customary international law as one of the sources of the international law on climate change and, in particular, to my conclusion about the relevance of the no-harm principle. I disagree. In the first part of his essay, Zahar’s analysis of the no-harm principle is limited to arguments by analogy, but a valid international legal argument can be based on deduction from axiomatic premises of the international legal order. In the second part of his essay, Zahar claims that the UNFCCC regime excludes the application of the no-harm principle when, in reality, the UNFCCC regime really seeks to facilitate the implementation of general international law.

Benoit Mayer

The Paris Agreement contains the first mention of human rights in a climate change treaty. This article recounts the build-up of human rights advocacy since the Cancun Agreements. It then discusses the significance of the inclusion of a provision on human rights in the preamble to the Paris Agreement and explores other relevant provisions adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the un Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December 2015.

Benoit Mayer

This is a response to Alexander Zahar’s article in the previous issue of Climate Law. Zahar argued that ‘the principle of prevention is neither applicable nor of relevance to the problem of climate change.’1 Firstly, I discuss Zahar’s scepticism toward state responsibility in the context of climate change. Secondly, I engage critically with Zahar’s claim that the preventive principle only applies to the type of environmental damage that occurs in a short timeframe and in a confined space. I show that some sources of international law do recognize the applicability of the preventive principle to damage to the global environment. Lastly, I dissent with Zahar’s qualification of the climate regime as a derogation to the principle of prevention. I argue that the principle of prevention is a necessary corollary of the rights of states to territorial integrity, although the modalities of application of the principle need to be refined.