Law and the Anthropocene

Jorge E. Vinuales, 'Law and the Anthropocene', C-EENRG Working Paper 2016-4 (August 2016)

60 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2016 Last revised: 5 Nov 2017

Date Written: August 1, 2016


This article explores the legal dimensions of the Anthropocene, i.e. the currently advocated new geological epoch in which humans are the main driving force. It provides an extensive survey of the literature from both natural and social sciences, including law, relevant to the understanding of the role of law in prompting, sustaining and, potentially, managing the Anthropocene. After a brief introduction to the Anthropocene narrative and the potential role of legal studies in it (I), it focuses on three main questions raised in natural/social sciences and discusses their legal dimensions: the disconnection between natural and human history (II), the profound inequalities in the human variable driving the Anthropocene (III), and the technological transition required to reach a sustainable societal organisation (IV). The article concludes with a concise research agenda linking specific legal questions to the broader social/natural science questions raised by the Anthropocene narrative.

Keywords: Anthropocene, legal organization, climate change, massive extinction, biodiversity loss, technological transitions, inequality

Suggested Citation

Vinuales, Jorge E., Law and the Anthropocene (August 1, 2016). Jorge E. Vinuales, 'Law and the Anthropocene', C-EENRG Working Paper 2016-4 (August 2016), Available at SSRN:

Jorge E. Vinuales (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge ( email )

19 Silver Street
United Kingdom

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