Re-stumping Australia's Constitution: A Case for Environmental Recognition
(2017) Australian Journal of Environmental Law 53.
17 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2021
Date Written: January 28, 2021
Human beings dominate and severely influence the earth to the extent that its dynamics and functioning are being changed. In the current era of the Anthropocene, nation states must respond in a concerted, global effort to mitigate the unprecedented affect humans are having on the planet. Because laws guide and moderate individual and collective human behaviour, nation states will need to, within the parameters of the current international legal system, pass domestic laws to ensure coherent and meaningful responses. It is through a nation's constitution that the law finds its highest expression.
Consequently, this article looks at constitutional recognition of environmental rights and protections globally, exploring the manner and form that these take. It examines some of the critical philosophical assumptions upon which many nation states are established, and suggests how environmental reforms may be reconciled within the parameters of the Australian Constitution.
Given that Australia is the only country that is at once both a sovereign nation and an entire continent, it is uniquely placed to affect meaningful national, regional and global change. It is the key values espoused in a nation's constitution that provide the foundation for all other laws. The Australian Constitution is in need of restumping, and in an era of anthropogenically induced climate change, one of its foundational stumps must be recognition of environmental rights and protections.
Keywords: environmental constitutionalism, Australia, Commonwealth Constitution, Anthropocene, environmental law, climate change, environmental rights
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