Kyoto is Dead, Long Live Kyoto! A New Era for International Climate Change Law

11 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2008  

Tim Stephens

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: April 2008

Abstract

As the implications of anthropogenic climate change are better understood the pressure builds for more effective legal and policy responses at national and international levels. With climate change looming as an existential threat, climate change law ought not to be characterised merely as a subset of an environmental law designed to reconcile ecological and developmental imperatives in search of the amorphous objective of sustainable development. Instead it should properly be seen as a frontline defender of the social, economic and ecological foundations upon which the rule of law is built. Against the backdrop of improved climate science concerning the temperature threshold beyond which there will be dangerous interference with the climate system, and the carbon reduction pathways to avoid this tipping-point, this paper takes stock of developments in international climate change law in the lead up to the conference and meeting of the parties to UNFCCC and Kyoto in Bali in December; a meeting that will mark 10 years since Kyoto was concluded. While recognising the limitations of the Kyoto Protocol, this paper defends the Kyoto approach against concerted efforts by the Howard Government in Australia and the Bush Administration in the United States to undermine a climate change regime enshrining binding targets and timetables for reducing emissions. It argues that rolling over Kyoto into second and subsequent commitment periods for emissions reductions by developed (and ultimately developing) countries would be an appropriate combination of pragmatism and principle in the pursuit of the rule of law in international climate policy.

Keywords: Climate change, climate change law, Kyoto Protocol

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32, Q20, Q30

Suggested Citation

Stephens, Tim, Kyoto is Dead, Long Live Kyoto! A New Era for International Climate Change Law (April 2008). Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/45. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1121605 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1121605

Tim Stephens (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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