Global Justice in the Anthropocene

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND GOVERNANCE FOR THE ANTHROPOCENE (Louis Kotze, ed) Hart Publishing, 2017.

Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 17-06

33 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017  

Carmen G. Gonzalez

Seattle University School of Law

Date Written: March 7, 2017

Abstract

Scientists believe the world has entered a new geological epoch in which human economic activity is the primary driver of global environmental change. Known as the Anthropocene, this epoch is characterized by human domination and disruption of Earth system processes essential to the planet’s self-regulating capacity. The environmental problems of the Anthropocene are inextricably intertwined with patterns of trade, finance, investment, and production that have created an enormous and growing economic gap between and within affluent and poor countries. These divisions have often paralyzed international law-making, resulting in deadlocks in environmental treaty negotiations and agreements characterized by ambiguity, lack of ambition, and inadequate compliance and enforcement mechanisms. International environmental law is a field in crisis because the problems it currently confronts are deeply embedded in the existing economic order and cannot be adequately addressed by simply tinkering on the margins. As the planet’s ecosystems approach irreversible tipping points, it is essential to frame the ecological and economic crises of our time in the language of justice and morality. This chapter deploys the discourse of environmental justice to describe the challenges of the Anthropocene and to propose pathways toward a more just and sustainable economic order.

Keywords: international environmental law, environmental justice, sustainable development, Anthropocene, food justice, energy justice, climate change, rights of Nature, intra-generational justice, inter-generational justice, North-South divide, trade and the environment, human rights

JEL Classification: K32, K33, K190, N05, O13, O19, Q01, Q56

Suggested Citation

Gonzalez, Carmen G., Global Justice in the Anthropocene (March 7, 2017). ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND GOVERNANCE FOR THE ANTHROPOCENE (Louis Kotze, ed) Hart Publishing, 2017.; Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 17-06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2929042

Carmen G. Gonzalez (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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