The Relevance of the No-Harm Principle to Climate Change Law and Politics

(2016) 19 Asia-Pacific Journal of Environmental Law 79-104.

54 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2017

See all articles by Benoit Mayer

Benoit Mayer

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

Date Written: October 9, 2016

Abstract

Although the no-harm principle has been identified as the cornerstone of international environmental law, it has not generally been recognized as a central feature of international climate change governance. Enduring disagreements as to the relevant normative principles to international cooperation have long plagued international climate change negotiations. This article highlights the general legal and political relevance of the no-harm principle in relation to climate change, including the responsibility of states for breaking this principle. It thus suggests that the climate regime should be framed as a regime recognizing obligations and responsibilities rather than a regime of voluntary participation and assistance. The article includes a detailed account of the reception of the no-harm principle in climate negotiations, a response to three likely objections to the relevance of the no-harm principle, and some reflections on a possible, realistic interpretation of the no-harm principle in relation to climate change.

Keywords: No-harm principle, climate change, state responsibility, international environmental law

Suggested Citation

Mayer, Benoit, The Relevance of the No-Harm Principle to Climate Change Law and Politics (October 9, 2016). (2016) 19 Asia-Pacific Journal of Environmental Law 79-104.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2914121

Benoit Mayer (Contact Author)

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

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

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