'We Want to Live!' Climate Change and the Limits of Civil Disobedience

56 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2024

See all articles by Frederic Megret

Frederic Megret

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Amar Khoday

University of Manitoba - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 31, 2022


This article examines the practice, nature and prospects of civil disobedience as a mode of resistance to climate change. Dominant understandings of civil disobedience are still highly indebted to earlier models that emphasized its primarily domestic locus, its broad adherence to the law and its targeted nature. But the sheer scale and amorphousness of the climate change challenge, its complex private-public nature and its systemic character profoundly challenge techniques honed during the civil rights or decolonization movements. We argue that there is a need to understand “climate disobedience” as based on a sui generis legal strategy, one that is more global, transnational, pluralistic, and decentralized than earlier instantiations of disobedience. Climate disobedience problematizes not just particular laws or policies, but the very notion of adherence to concepts of law that are entangled with planetary destruction. Based on a study of the legacy of past civil disobedience episodes and actual practices of climate disobedience, the article highlights some of the vulnerabilities evident in current efforts and points to some ways to avoid the resulting traps.

Suggested Citation

Mégret, Frédéric and Khoday, Amar, 'We Want to Live!' Climate Change and the Limits of Civil Disobedience (December 31, 2022). (2022) 35:1 Georgetown Environmental Law Review 155 (GELR), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4710151

Frédéric Mégret (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec H3A 1W9

Amar Khoday

University of Manitoba - Faculty of Law ( email )

224 Dysart Road
Faculty of Law
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2

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