Climate Change Disobedience

University of Florida Journal of Law and Public Policy Forthcoming

WVU College of Law Research Paper Series, No. 2020-001

43 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2019 Last revised: 3 Mar 2021

Date Written: December 11, 2019


Among those who recognize climate change as an existential threat, some are willing to take dramatic action against it by committing civil disobedience. Activists, such as those taking part in the Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom, are willing to exchange their liberty for some putative good.

There is no discussion in the disobedience literature of the discrete purposes of climate disobedience or the principles by which climate activists ought to be guided in seeking to fulfill those purposes.

This Article takes on that task.

After offering an overview of the purposes of disobedience, this Article isolates those purposes relevant to a climate disobedience campaign, identifies those principles by which climate disobedients should abide to achieve the purposes most attainable by climate disobedience, analyzes a serious limitation inherent in climate disobedience, and suggests measures to counteract the effects of the limitation. Finally, it critically examines Extinction Rebellion with a view to more effective future disobedience.

Keywords: climate change, civil disobedience, Extinction Rebellion, climate disobedience, climate activists, protest

JEL Classification: K30

Suggested Citation

DiSalvo, Charles Richard, Climate Change Disobedience (December 11, 2019). University of Florida Journal of Law and Public Policy Forthcoming, WVU College of Law Research Paper Series, No. 2020-001, Available at SSRN: or

Charles Richard DiSalvo (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - College of Law ( email )

101 Law School Drive
Morgantown, WV West Virginia 26506
United States

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