This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Law Notes Environmental Law Notes

Climate Change Notes

Updated Climate Change Notes Notes

Environmental Law Notes

Environmental Law

Approximately 262 pages

A collection of the best Environmental Law notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through forty-eight LLB samples from outstanding law students with the highest results in England and carefully evaluating each on accuracy, formatting, logical structure, spelling/grammar, conciseness and "wow-factor". This set of notes earned its author a prize in exams.

We're confident you'll find these revision materials useful - check the samples below to deci...

The following is a more accessible plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Environmental Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Climate Change Notes

What is the climate change problem and what is climate change law?

Pollutants and Environmental Mechanism

There is a suite of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) which work together with clouds to intensify the sun’s heat by trapping it in our atmosphere – this is the greenhouse effect

  • This in turn leads to a distortion of the earth’s climate

Despite past controversy over the science of climate change, it is now recognized by the majority of the international scientific community that anthropogenic GHGs have been increasingly causing such atmospheric distortions since industrialization, which have resulted in problematic levels of global warming.

The main sources of the increasing atmospheric concentrations of these gases are the combustion of fossil fuels, as well as land use change (particularly deforestation), livestock rearing, biodegradable landfill waste, the use of agricultural fertilizers, and the use of CFCs in refrigeration and fire-retardant equipment

Framing the Problem

A key feature of the scientific understanding of the problem is that the total concentration of anthropogenic GHGs in the global atmosphere is the relevant case of the amplified greenhouse effect

The regulatory approaches adopted to deal with climate change can in turn frame and define the very problem of climate change.

  • For instance, by focusing regulatory efforts on pricing GHG emissions, the climate change problem is broadly shaped as a financial cost of human activity and industrialisation.

    • BUT: climate change also has ecological, socio-political, and ethical dimensions that are not easily captured through regulatory strategies that focus solely on financial metrics and market mechanisms

Climate Change Law

A result of the social embedding of climate change is that the law relating to it is very wide-ranging

  • Peel (2008) argues that climate change has both an integral international dimension, but is also a problem which requires the integrated efforts of governments from the local to national levels

    • He also notes how the law relating to climate change is both vertically differentiated and horizontally differentiated

      • Vertically Differentiated – this constitutes a scheme of multi-level governance

      • Horizontally Differentiated – this constitutes climate change consideration penetrating a variety of legal areas such as insurance law. Planning law, taxation law and energy law

        • In this regard Scotford and Minas (2019) have said that “climate-related legislation does not necessarily come with the label ‘climate change’ in its title or within its provisions”

Fisher (2013) notes three reasons for an intense scholarly interest in climate litigation:

  1. It is understood to be a response to institutional failure on the art of both international and national bodies

  2. A belief that, the legal reasoning in the judgements is an authoritative statement about what is relevant in regards to thinking about anthropogenic-induced climate change

  3. It “legitimises concerns” over climate change not only by stating what the law is but by stating what the facts are

What is the international approach to climate change?

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

The central plank of the international climate change regime is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which encourages stabilisation of GHG emissions by industrialised countries at levels that will not cause dangerous climate effects and establishes a core principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities

Article 2 places scientific facts at the core of the commitment made by signatory states:

The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner

The UNFCCC is a framework convention – it sets out overall goals, principles and the direction of international regulation, rather than comprehensive detailed commitments

  • Article 3(1) sets out the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities

    • This manifests in the two Annexes, which list those developed nationas that will be required to take the lead in combatting climate change and the effects thereof’

  • It includes other general principles such as (i) intergenerational equity (in substance, not in form); (ii) sustainable development, (iii) a version of the precautionary principle; (iv) the promotion of an open economic system, and (v) the need to consider special circumstances of developing countries

In terms of commitments:

  • Article 4(1) requires all parties the Convention requires all parties—developed and developing:

    • to report national anthropogenic emissions;

    • to undertake mitigation programmes;

    • to take climate change into account in their social, economic, and environmental policies and actions; and

    • to co-operate in research and information-sharing in relation to the climate system and climate change, including technology development and transfer.

  • Article 4(2) establishes differentiated responses for developed country parties

    • In particular, Annex I parties must adopt policy measures to limit emissions and enhance GHG sinks and reservoirs

  • Articles 4(3) and 4(4) go a step further, requiring Annex II parties (a subset of Annex I countries) to finance developing countries in meeting their obligations under the Convention,

    • This includes funding technology transfer, as well as assisting developing nations to meet some costs of adapting to climate change.

Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto...

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Environmental Law Notes.