Climate Change, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law

29 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2021

See all articles by Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne

Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: January 7, 2021


Climate change challenges the resiliency and integrity of social and legal systems worldwide. Responding to climate change requires us to think systematically – and ambitiously – about how to engage the rule of law as a tool in efforts to limit the causes and consequences of climate change. This Article highlights the important, but under-explored relationship between ongoing pressures on the rule of law and efforts to draw upon the rule of law to limit climate change. It posits that the growth of right-wing populist, nationalist, and authoritarian movements worldwide puts pressure on the rule of law and imperils efforts to advance cooperation on climate change. It then explores the relationship between the rule of law, climate change, and human rights and describes how, despite downward pressures on the rule of law, efforts to embrace and deepen the linkages between climate change and human rights law continue to progress at both the domestic and international level. Ultimately, this Article argues that the rule of law is critical to addressing climate change, but the international rule of law is under pressure and even tentatively held, shared understandings of the rule of law are in question. This uncertainty challenges the ability to leverage law, including human rights law, to achieve effective and equitable change in the climate context.

JEL Classification: K00, K1, K3, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Carlarne, Cinnamon Piñon, Climate Change, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law (January 7, 2021). Ohio State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 591, UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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