Debating Climate Law

Debating Climate Law

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Available from Cambridge University Press, Amazon (US / UK), WorldCat libraries.

Co-edited with Alexander Zahar. Published with Cambridge University Press (2021). Featuring three-dozens brilliant colleagues in climate law.

What role could or should the law play in dealing with the climate emergency? In this innovative volume, leading scholars explore fundamental debates at the frontier of climate change law scholarship. They address the key areas of scholarly disagreement about what climate change law is, the legal rules it consists of, and how these rules could be implemented in the real world. The first eleven topics are debated by teams of scholars expressing diametrically opposite points of view on each topic, in traditional debating style; the last seven chapters are presented as an individual author’s own reflection on a topic that cannot readily be reduced to a binary debate. Each chapter is written in an accessible and thought-provoking way, emphasizing clear lines of argumentation. The debating-style format is designed to stimulate students to think critically and logically about the law and to fire up debate in and out of class.

Table of contents

Introduction (Benoit Mayer & Alexander Zahar) – preprint

Debate 1: Customary Law

  1. The No-Harm Principle as the Foundation of International Climate Law (Sandrine Maljean-Dubois)
  2. The Significant Transboundary Harm Prevention Rule and Climate Change: One-Size-Fits-All or One-Size-Fits-None? (Christopher Campbell-Duruflé)

Debate 2: The ILC’s Role

  1. The International Law Commission’s Role in Developing International Law to Protect the Earth’s Atmosphere as It Relates to Climate Change (Peter H. Sand)
  2. Why the ILC Should Not Seek to Codify Climate Law (Géraud de Lassus St-Geniès)

Debate 3: CBDR Principle

  1. In Defence of the Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (Daria Shapovalova)
  2. The Notion of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities: A Commendable But Failed Effort to Enhance Equity in Climate Law (Thomas Leclerc)

Debate 4: Compliance

  1. In Defence of the Paris Agreement’s Compliance System: The Case for Facilitative Compliance (Meinhard Doelle) – preprint
  2. The Paris Agreement’s Article 15 Mechanism: Incomplete Strategy (Anna Huggins)

Debate 5: Climate Litigation

  1. The Essential Role of Climate Change Litigation and the Courts in Averting Climate Crisis (Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne) – preprint
  2. Climate Litigation: A Red Herring Among Climate Mitigation Tools (Guy Dwyer) – preprint

Debate 6: Human Rights

  1. Human Rights Law Can Drive Climate Change Mitigation (Nicola Pain)
  2. The Absurdity of Relying on Human Rights Law to Go After Emitters (Fanny Thornton)

Debate 7: Historical Responsibility

  1. Redressing Historical Responsibility for the Unjust Precarities of Climate Change in the Present (Sarah Mason-Case & Julia Dehm) – preprint
  2. Historical Responsibility for Climate Change Is Political Propaganda (Alexander Zahar) – preprint

Debate 8: Climate Migration

  1. ‘Climate Mobility’ Is a Proper Subject of Research and Governance (Ingrid Boas)
  2. ‘Climate Mobility’ Is Not a Proper Subject of Research and Governance (Calum Nicholson)

Debate 9: Negative-Emission Technologies

  1. An Emission-Reduction Commitment Is a Plan for the Future: Developing and Using New NETs Should Be at the Heart of That Plan (Gareth Davies) – preprint
  2. It Would Be Irresponsible, Unethical, and Unlawful to Rely on NETs at Large Scale Instead of Mitigation (Duncan McLaren & Wil Burns)

Debate 10: Solar Radiation Management

  1. Solar Geoengineering Could Be Consistent with International Law (Jesse L. Reynolds) – preprint
  2. Solar Geoengineering Is Prohibited under International Law (Kerryn Anne Brent)

Debate 11: Climate Assessment

  1. The Emergence of Climate Assessment As a Customary Law Obligation (Benoit Mayer) – preprint
  2. Environmental Impact Assessment for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Is Pie in the Sky (Alexander Zahar) – preprint

Reflection 1: Adaptation

Climate Change Adaptation Law: Is There Such a Thing? (Benoit Mayer) – preprint

Reflection 2: Loss and Damage

Legal Claims for Reparation of Loss and Damage (Alice Venn)

Reflection 3: Disappearing States

State Extinction through Climate Change (Ori Sharon)

Reflection 4: Climate Finance

A Legal Perspective on Climate Finance Debates: How Constructive is the Current Norm Ambiguity? (Yulia Yamineva)

Reflection 5: Non-state Actors

The Role of Non-state Actors in Climate Law (Mikko Rajavuori) – preprint

Reflection 6: Regime Inconsistency

Climate Law and Environmental Law: Is Conflict between Them Inevitable? (Olivia Woolley)

Reflection 7: Aesthetics

Climate Change Law and Aesthetics: A Primer (Benjamin J. Richardson)

Conclusion (Benoit Mayer & Alexander Zahar) – preprint


  • By Ayman Cherkaoui, in (2023) 17(1) Carbon and Climate Law Review 58: “the book is successful, and that success has plenty to do with how the book is constructed. … make for an entertaining and informative read, with well-researched arguments as well as constructive and, sometimes, witty dialogue between the authors.”