The Space Between Grand Optimism and Grim Determination: Finding a Pathway Forward in International Climate Change Law
20 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2020
Date Written: March 10, 2020
This essay seeks to accomplish three things. First, it seeks to convince the reader to view climate change as one of the greatest legal and political challenges of our time by very succinctly emphasizing some of the anticipated risks and impacts of climate change and the ways in which these impacts shape the way we think about and respond to climate change. Second, it examines the overarching goals of international climate change law and the extent to which the Paris Agreement advances those goals. Third, it considers the most important roadblocks to our collective efforts to address climate change, focusing on the collective action nature of climate change and the perpetuation of an idealized vision of a cooperative international community. The essay concludes by arguing that law is an essential tool in our fight against climate change, but that using law effectively in this context means breaking free of a vision of law as a top down sweeping tool capable of offering grand solutions. Instead, it suggests that we must think of law as an enabling instrument that can help us make the multitude of changes that we need to make to reshape ourselves so as to allow present and future generations to live safely and sustainably.
Keywords: climate change law, optimism, pessimism, planetary boundaries, Paris Agreement
JEL Classification: K00, K1, K32, K33, Q01, F64, Q54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation