National Fossil Fuel Companies and Climate Change Mitigation under International Law

44 Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce 1, 55 (2016)

52 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2017 Last revised: 21 Jun 2017

See all articles by Benoit Mayer

Benoit Mayer

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Law

Mikko Rajavuori

University of Eastern Finland - School of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2016

Abstract

Politics and research on climate change mitigation have often focused on the regulatory function of the state. This article explores the function of the state as an investor and shareholder, taking the particular example of the fossil fuel sector. National Fossil Fuel Companies (NFFCs) are state-owned enterprises that control most of the production of petroleum, gas and coal, possess most of the reserves, and leverage most of the investments, thus forming an integral part of the superstructure of the global carbon economy. Occasionally these companies are so deeply enmeshed with their owner governments that their conduct can be directly attributed to the state, possibly entailing state responsibility under international law when they cause excessive greenhouse gas emissions. But even when the corporate veil precludes attribution of NFFC’s actions to the state, this article suggests that certain obligations arise from general international law and from the specific regime created by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in relation to state ownership policies in the fossil fuel sector. Thus, although not advocating for general divestment, we suggest that states should – and are increasingly required to – use their leverage as investors and shareholders to facilitate a transition to a greener economy.

Keywords: international law, climate policy, state ownership, climate change, mitigation, national oil company

JEL Classification: F18, K22, L32, K33

Suggested Citation

Mayer, Benoit and Rajavuori, Mikko, National Fossil Fuel Companies and Climate Change Mitigation under International Law (November 1, 2016). 44 Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce 1, 55 (2016) , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2913420 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2913420

Benoit Mayer

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Law ( email )

6/F, Lee Shau Kee Building
Shatin, New Territories
Hong Kong

Mikko Rajavuori (Contact Author)

University of Eastern Finland - School of Law ( email )

Joensuu
Finland

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
105
Abstract Views
678
rank
297,355
PlumX Metrics