Impacts of International Law on Climate Change Mitigation

Impacts of International Law on Climate Change Mitigation


Cover Page i
Title Page ii
Certification iii
Dedication iv
Acknowledgements v
Table of Contents vi
Table of Cases x
Table of Statutes xi
Table of Diagrams and figures xviii
Table of Abbreviations xix
Abstract xxiii

1.1 Background to the Study 2
1.2 Statement of the Problem 9
1.3 Literature Review 10
1.4 Research Questions 22
1.5 Objectives of the study 23
1.6 Research Methodology 24
1.7 Scope of the Study 24
2.1 Theories of Climate Change 26
2.1.1 Man and his Environment 26
2.1.2 Anthropocentrism 32
2.1.3 Biocentrism 34
2.1.4 Ecocentrism 34
2.1.5 Ecofeminism 34
2.1.6 Gia-Hypothesis 37
2.2 Emerging Principles of International Environmental Law on Climate Change 38
2.2.1 Principles of Sustainable Development. 39
2.2.2 The Precautionary Principle. 42
2.2.3 Polluter- pays Principle 43 2.2.4 Principle of Common but differentiated responsibility 43 2.2.5 Principle of State Cooperation 44 2.2.6 Sovereign Rights to Natural Resources or “No Harm Rule” 45
2.3 Climate Change Impacts 51
2.3.1 Impact on the Environment 51
2.3.2 Impact on Human Health 58
2.3.3 Impact on Human Rights 60
2.3.4 Impact on Trade and Economic Development 63
3.1 From a Background of Uncertainty 65
3.2 Pre-Earth Summit Responses to Climate Change Impacts 67
3.2.1 The Stockholm Conference, 1972 68
3.2.2 The Bruntland Commission, 1983 69
3.2.3 The Vienna Convention on Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS) 1985 70
3.2.4 Montreal Protocol on ODS 1987 and Amendments 70
3.3 Post Earth Summit Responses to Climate Change Impacts 72
3.3.1 The World Conference on Environment and Development, 1992 72
3.3.2 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1992 74
3.3.3 Rio + 10, Conference, 2002. World summit on sustainable development
(WSSD) 77
3.3.4 The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)
Rio+20 80

3.4 Conference of Parties (COP) and Climate Responses 81
3.4.1 Kyoto Protocol, 1997 82
3.4.2 Bali Roadmap 2007 87
3.4.3 Copenhagen 2009 88
3.4.4 Cancun 2010 89
3.4.5 Durban 2011 90
3.4.6 Doha 2012 90 3.4.7 Peru 2014 90
3.4.8 Paris 2015 91
3.4.9 Bonn 2017 101
3.4.10 One Planet Summit, 2017 102
4.1 Annex 1 Countries or Developed Countries 108
4.1.1 U.S. A 108
4.1.2 U. K 111
4.1.3 Australia 112
4.2 Economies in Transition 115
4.2.1 China 116
4.2.2 India 121
4.2.3 Brazil 125
4.3 Annex 11 Countries or Developing Countries 126
4.3.1 Nigeria 126
4.3.2 Kenya 131
5.1 The need for Non-State intervention 136.
5.2 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOS) and Civil Society Organisations
(CSOs) 141

5.3. Faith Based Organisations (F.B. Os) 159
5.3.1 The Catholic Church’s Ecological Position 159
5.3.2 Islam’s response to Climate Change 166
5.4 Civil Society and the Current Communication Era 167
6.1 Climate Change Litigation 170
6.2 Necessity for Climate Change Litigation 176
6.3 Sources of Claims in Climate Change Litigation 178
6.4 Civil Society Movements’ Standing to sue in Climate Litigations 180
6.5 Remedies in Climate Change Litigation 185
6.6 Effect of Litigation on Climate Change Impacts 187
7.1 Findings 191
7.2 Recommendations 194
7.3 Conclusion 198
Bibliography 200

Argentina v. Uruguay, (2010) ICJ Reports 1, 38, para.101.

Australian Conservation Foundation v. Minister for Planning, Administrative Decision, (2004) VCAT 2029 available at

GBemre v. Shell Petroleum Development Corporation of Nigeria Ltd and ors [2005] AHRLR 151

Bund & Germanwatch v. German Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour [BMWA], Beschluss, Verwaltungsgericht [VG Berlin] [Local Administrative Court] Jan. 10, 2006, VG 10 A 215.04 (2006), translated at
. (entering order requiring Hermes to assess impacts of its financial decisions on climate change).

Bundes fur Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland eV & Germanwatche V Bundesrepublik Deutschland,vertretendurch Bundesministerfur Wirtschaft und Arbeit VG 10 A 215.04 (FRG January 10, 2006

Cambridge Water Co V Eastern Counties Leather Plc ( 1994) I ALL ER. 53
Complaint, California v. Gen. Motors Corp., (2006) No. C06-05755 MJJ. C06-05755 (N.D. Cal., Sept. 20,) available at

Complaint, Centre. for Biological Diversity v. Brennan, No. C06-7061 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 14, 2006). Available at

Conka vs Belgium, (2002) 34 EHRR54
Connecticut v. American Electric Power, (2005)16 FORDHAM ENVTL. L. REV. 407.

Corfu Channels (1947). I.C.J. 4, 22

Derbyshire Dales DC v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local
Government [2009] EWHC 1729; [2010] 1 P & CR 19

Dimmock v. Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families [2008] 1 All ER 367

European parliament v Council (Chenobyl) case C-70/88 (1990) ECR 1-2041
Friends of the Earth v. Mosbacher, No. C02-4106 JSW, (2007) WL 962955 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 30, 2007) available at

Friends of the Earth v. Watson, No. C02-4106 JSW, 2005 WL 2035596 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 23, 2005) available at

Grainger Plc. v. Nicholson [2010] 2 All ER 253

Gray v The Minister for Planning [2006] NSWLEC 720

Hungary v. Slovakia, 1997 ICJ Reports, p.41, para.53.

Lujan v Defenders of Wildlife (1992) 504 US 555, 112 S.Ct.2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351

Massachusetts v. EPA (2007)127 S.Ct. 1438

Methanax Corporation V United States of America ,

North West Environmental Defence Centre v. Owens Corning Corp., 434 F. Supp. 2d 957 (D. Or. 2006)

Re Australian Conservation Foundation v Latrobe City Council 528 F3d 309 (2nd Cir 2009)

Reparation for Injuries Suffered in the Services of the United Nations, (1949) ICJ Report, p.
R V Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution, Exparte Greenpeace (No 2) (1994) 4 All ER 319
R V Pool BC Experts. Beebee (1991) J PL. 643,
R V Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Ex P. World Development Movement (1995) ALL ER 611.
R V Secretary of State for Trade and industry, Exp. Duddridge (1995) ENV. L. R 151
The Trail Smelters arbitration (1947). I.C.J. 4, 22

Stitching Greenpeace Council v Commission case T-585/93, (1995) ECR 11-2205178
United Kingdom v. Commission [2005] ECR II-480
State of Connecticut, et al v American Electric Power Company Inc.
et al (2005)406 F Supp 2d 265 (SDNY 2005)



Convention on Access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention) 1998

Article 3 para. 7

Convention on Assistance in the case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency.1986

Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992
Article 3
Recital 8 of its preamble

Convention to Combat Desertification, 2001

Convention on Early Notification of nuclear or Radioactive Accident 1986

Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 2001

Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989
Article 24

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as amended by Protocol No. 11.
Art 34

Geneva Convention on Long Range trans-boundary Air Pollution, 1979

International Convention for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1966
Article 22(2)

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discriminations.1963

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 1966

International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. 1979

The Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989

Vienna Convention on the protection of the ozone layer 1985

The Vienna Convention on Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS) 1985

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982

Article 194 paragraph 2

United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention 31 ILM 849 1992
Article 1 (2)
Article 2.
Art. 10.4.
Art. 11.1
Art. 8
Art. 15.2
Article 16
Article 17

United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCC) Paris Agreement 2015
Art. 2
(Art. 2.1.(a)
Art. 4.1
Art. 13.11
Art. 4.3
Art. 4.11
Art. 6.2
Art. 6.4
Art. 13.3
Art. 14.2.
Art. 7.1
Art. 7
Art. 6.6
Art. 10
Art. 11
Art. 10.4.
Art. 11.1
Art. 8
Art. 15.2

Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948
(Article 71)

United Nations Chatter, 1945
Article 1(3)

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses, 1994

Vienna Convention For The Protection Of The Ozone Layer 1985.
Article 1

Kyoto Protocol
Article 3(1)
Article 3(1)
Article, 17
Article 6.
Article 3(3)

Montreal Protocol on Substance that deplete the ozone layer , 1980.
Para. 49
Para. 50

Montreal Protocol on ODS Amendments, 1987

Montreal Protocol on ODS, The London Amendment (1990)

Montreal Protocol on ODS, the Copenhagen Amendment (1992)

Montreal Protocol on ODS, the Montreal Amendment (1997)

Montreal Protocol on ODS, the Beijing Amendment (1999)

COP Decision to the Climate Change Paris Agreement, 2015
2/CP.15, para 1
Para.20 of the Decision
Para 17 of the Decision
Para. 54of the Decision
Para. 52
Para. 49
Para. 50

African Charter on the Human and People’s Rights 1981
Article 24
Art. 5 (3)

African charter on Human and Peoples Rights, 1997
Art 5 (3) of the 1998

Arab Charter on Human Rights, 2004

European Community (EC) Treaty
Articles 174(1)
Article 175(2)

The American Convention on Human Rights, 1969
Art 44

The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.


Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Declaration), UN Doc. A/CONF/48/14/REV1,
Principle 1
Principles 2,
Principles 3
Principles 5
principles 4,
Principles 6
Principles 8-15
Principles 16-20
Principle 21.

Declaration of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Declaration), UN Doc. A/CONF.151/26/Rev.1,
Principle 2
principle 7
Principle 16
Principle 27
Principle 2;

Truman Declaration on the Continental Shelf, 1948


UNGA Resolution 45/53ECOSOC Resolution 32(iv) (1947)
UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/64/236 on 24th December 2009.
ECOSOC Resolution 32(iv) (1947)
General Assembly Res 2994 (xxvii),
General Assembly Res 2995 (xxvii),
General Assembly Res 2996 (xxvii),
General Assembly Res 2997
General Assembly Res 3004 (xxviii)
General Assembly Resolution 217a (III) of 10th December, 1948.
General Assembly in Resolution 2230A (XX1) of 16th December, 1966.
General Assembly in Resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16th December, 1966.
General Assembly in Resolution 53/144 of 9th December, 1998
General Assembly in Resolution 2230A (XX1) of 16th December, 1966.
General Assembly in Resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16th December, 1966.
General Assembly in Resolution 53/144 of 9th December, 1998.
Directive 2003/4/EC
Directive 2003/35/EC
ECOSOC Resolution 1296.
(ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31, 25 July, 1997),
ECOSOC (ECOSOC Decision 1996/297, 25 July, 1997).
(ECOSOC Resolution 288(x), 1950
1996 (resolution 1996/31
1968 ECOSOC Resolution 1296
(ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31, 25 July, 1997)
ECOSOC Resolution 32(iv) (1947) 1947 ECOSOC
Agenda 21, UN Doc, A/CONF.151/26/Rev. 1,



The Constitution of Kenya, 2010

Water Act, 2002


Education Act, 1996

United States

Clean Air Act, 1990
Section 202(a)(1)


Victorian Planning and Environment Act 1987 (P & E Act)

Environment Effects Act, 1978


Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999
Sections 33 and 34

Environmental Impact Assessment Act Cap E12, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004

Figure 1: Carbon Cycle 29
Figure2: The Greenhouse Effect. 31
Figures 3 and 4: showing Rise in atmospheric temperature 53
Figure: 5 250 years consistent rise in atmospheric temperature 54
Figure 6 Indications of human induced Climate Change 56
Figure 7 The rate of total heat content since 1961 57
Figure 8: Australia’s 2030 targets in comparison with that of other Countries 113
Table 1: Emission commitments of EC Annex 1 Countries to the
Kyoto Protocol 84

AAUs – Assigned Amount Units
ACFOA – Australian Council for Overseas Aid
ACPPP – The African Civil Society Platform on Principled Partnership
Africom HR – African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights
AI – Amnesty International
AOSIS – Alliance of Small Island States)
AWG-LCA – Ad Hoc working group on Long-term Cooperative Action
under the Convention
CAN – Climate Action Network
CCCSM – Climate Change Civil Society Movements
CDIAC – Carbon-dioxide Information Analysis Center
CDM – Clear Development Mechanism
CER – Certified Emission Reductions
CFC – Chlorofluorocarbons
CHP – Combined Heat and Power
CH4 – Methane
CITIES – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species,.
CONGO – Commercial NGO
COP – Conference of Parties
CO2 – Carbon dioxide
CRINGO – Criminal NGO
CSD – Commission on Sustainable Development
CSM – Civil Society Movements
CSO – Civil Society Organisation
DNA – Designated National Authority
EC – European Community
ECCP – European Climate Change Programme
ECJ – European court of Justice
ECOSOC – Economic and Social Council
EPA – Environment Protection Agency
ERU – Emission Reduction Units
ESD – Environmentally sustainable development
ET – Emission trading
EU ETS – EU Emission Trading Scheme
FANGO – Fake Non Governmental Organisation
FIT – Feed-in-tariff
GA – General Assembly
GEO – Global Environment Outlook
GHG – Greenhouse gases
GW – Gigawatts
GONGO – Government organised Non Governmental Organisation
GISS – Goddard Institute of Space Studies
GoK – The Government of Kenya
HFCs – Hydrofluorocarbons
IAM COM HR – Inter-American Commission for Human Rights
ICCPR – International Convention for Civil and Political Rights
ICESC – International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
ICFO – International Committee on Fundraising Organizations
IISD – International Institute for Sustainable Development
INDCs – Intended Nationally Determined Contributions
IPCC – Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change
JI – Joint implementation
KP – Kyoto protocol
LP – Liquefied petroleum ()
LULUCF – land use, land-use change and forestry sector ()
MANGO – Mafia Non Governmental Organisation
MEAs – Multilateral Environmental Agreements.
NAP – National Adaptation Plans
NCCRS – National Climate Change Response Strategy
NDMA – National Drought Management Authority
NEMA – National Environment Management Authority
NGOs – Non-governmental organizations
NIALS – Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
NIE – National Implementing Entity
N2O – Nitrous oxide
OAS – Organisation of American States
OECD – Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
OPEC – Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries ()
PANGO – Party Non Governmental Organisation
P & E Act – Planning and Environment Act 1987
PFCs – Perfluorocarbons
RECIEL – Review of European Community and International
Environmental Law
RGGI – Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
RNC – Republican National Convention
SC – Security Council
SC – Supervisory committee
SMS – Short message service
UNCED – United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
UNDR – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
UNECE – United Nations Economic Commission for Europe of the
UNEP – United Nations Environment Programme
UNFCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
WANGO – World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations
WCED – World Commission on Environment and Development
WCI – Western Climate Initiative
WMO – World Meteorological Organization
W/m2 – Watts per square meter
WRI – World Resources Institute
WSSD – World Summit on Sustainable Development
WWLF – World Wide Life Fund


The various reports of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), more than anything else, cleared all doubts as to whether the earth is indeed warming up. Thermometers in over 17,000 weather Stations could not be argued with. Man-made (anthropogenic) activities have resulted in unpredictable and profound changes that alter the composition of the global atmosphere causing significant deleterious effects. Ever since, the concern of international law has been how to achieve substantial reduction of emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) which were found to be responsible for global warming and the resultant change in climate conditions. Given that the threat of human induced climate change represents a classic collective problem affecting everyone, there has been an increasing international effort to mitigate climate impacts both by State and non-State actors alike even as the international community under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has just negotiated a new climate agreement.

This work articulates the international legal regime on climate change in a manner that highlights its relevant scientific theories thus providing the basis for ascertaining whether the extant legal regime on climate change has equaled the seeming global concerns as to its severity on the environment, human health, human rights and trade and development due to its voluntary contributions, ratchet mechanism and non punitive nature. It was found that the rapidly growing consensus as to the severity of climate change however remains at odds with the slow rate of progress in addressing the problems through international cooperation even when scientific theories of the carbon cycle, the greenhouse effect, gia-hypothesis, anthropocentrism, bio-centrism, eco-centrism and eco-feminism all provide proof of the reality of climate change. From negotiation to enforcement; International climate change laws have proven to be most challenging in the history of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) due to diverse interests.

The north-south dichotomy and other divergent interests which has characterised international law on climate change have greatly impinged upon the realisation of the intents of MEAs on climate change due largely to the blame game between the two divides and reluctance to sacrifice today’s development for the sustainability of the future. International laws through its principles of sustainable development, precautionary principle, polluters- pay, common but differentiated responsibility, state cooperation, and sovereign rights of natural resources “no-harm rule” tend to limit States’ sovereignty. It was found that International law has played tremendous role in diversifying approaches to international environmental laws on climate change through strict interpretation of the principle of pacta sunt servanda, regarding climate change obligations as one erga omnes and recognition of non-state actors in climate advocacy. The study adopted doctrinal, analytical and comparative designs.

Reliance was placed on primary and secondary source materials relevant to the topic. The primary sources include treaties, conventions, protocols and resolutions. Secondary source materials relied on include: textbooks, journals articles, historical records, Case reviews, Bible and Quran recourse of which was had in the analysis of existing international laws on climate change. Emphasis was placed on empirical data gathered through tables, graphs and pictures, analysed to drive home the concept of, and impact of climate change while comparatively reviewing the responses of countries and other State and Non-State actors to mitigate the problem of climate change. Analyses of the data were through deductive reasoning based on statutes and case law.

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