By Alice Venn, PhD Candidate (University of Bristol Law School).*
The South Pacific is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change impacts. The images conjured up of sinking small islands surrounded by miles of rising oceans however do little justice to the vibrant cultures, diverse landscapes and close-knit communities I recently encountered there. As part of my PhD project exploring the legal protection available to climate vulnerable states and communities I was fortunate enough, with the support of the South West Doctoral Training Centre, to be awarded a three month visiting researcher position at the University of the South Pacific in Port Vila, Vanuatu. I spent my time there gathering data, primarily through a series of interviews with key stakeholders from national government, local law firms and NGOs, as well as with a number of regional organisations during a short trip to Fiji. Continue reading →
By Ms Chris Willmore, Reader in Sustainability and Law (University of Bristol Law School).*
With the Referendum being imminent, the Environment has singularly failed to make itself an issue in the BREXIT debate. Yet it is impossible to explore any aspect of environmental law in the UK without encountering European Law. It is therefore no surprise that environmental lawyers and environmental groups have been queuing up to express concerns about the implications of BREXIT – Margherita Piericcini’s Cabot Institute blog on the impact on wildlife and habitats is an example.
As 2016 lengthens its stride, the ambivalent euphoria of the Paris agreements on climate change gives way to a sense of ‘where to from here?’ While the technicalities of the Kyoto Protocol were never easy fodder for inspiring collective action, the new terrain is arguably even more forbidding on that score. Each country will submit Nationally Determined Contributions, a welter of sector-specific plans and measures which will be assessed, monitored, analysed and reviewed by carbon management professionals via procedures still being fought over. This is, from the perspective of global climate treaty processes, a ‘bottom-up’ approach to responding to climate change.
What if, instead, we were to turn our collective attention to a very different conception of ‘bottom-up’, a grass-roots process of building a new economy as a response to climate change? Not the new economy of the tech start-up world, itself an extension of arguably over-optimistic hopes that the economy-as-usual can, with the help of science and technology, provide products or processes that will decouple growth and carbon emissions. No, the ‘new’ here is more about the way ‘economy’, ‘market’ and ‘exchange’ can be re-imagined so that they move away from the extractive processes that damage our ecology. Innovation is socio-ecological more than technological, internalising a more generative relationship to the resource base upon which production and consumption depend. Continue reading →