Volume 1, Issue 2 (June 2024) – 9 articles

Article

15 December 2023

The Role of Liability Regime in Addressing Historical Contaminated Land Problems: A Comparative Perspective from England and China

This article conducts a comparative analysis of contaminated land regimes in China and England, focusing on their development, liability attribution, key principles, administrative nature, and financial guarantees. Both regimes are risk-based and are supported by the Polluter Pays Principle and the Stewardship Principle. They have similar liability arrangements: attributing the liability firstly to the polluter and then to landowners/occupiers or the usufructuaries. Administrative authorities under both regimes hold pivotal roles in remediating land on certain occasions. However, the cost recovery mechanisms vary due to the different constitutional roles among enforcing authorities, courts, and liable parties in the two countries. Both regimes impose retrospective liability, yet England provides detailed rules regarding the hardship provision and exclusion tests, preventing the unfair allocation of liability more effectively. Experience from England highlights the limited role of legal regimes in managing historical pollution, emphasising the need for supplementary mechanisms. This is why financial support is critical for effective land remediation in both countries. 

Perspective

26 December 2023

Article

18 February 2024

The Sustainable Development Concept in the Polish Legal Space from a Legal-Dogmatic Perspective

The sustainable development concept is of crucial importance for the socioeconomic development processes, not only at the international community level, but also—or, perhaps, particularly—at the national or even local levels. The aim of the article is to demonstrate, from a legal-dogmatic perspective, the place, role and significance of the sustainable development concept in the Polish legal space. This perspective applies to both the state policy intended to formulate a strategy which provides a basis for law-making processes and to find normative solutions making it possible to reconcile legally protected values which sometimes compete with one another, with account taken of the needs of future generations. The sustainable development concept has been very broadly followed in Poland not only in the legal doctrine, but also in the doctrine of economic and social sciences. This term has turned out to be such an effective political catchword that it has been commonly abused and, therefore, it has lost a good deal of its social importance; this makes it substantially more difficult to apply a normative approach to the issues related to the implementation of the concept in legislative practice. In the Polish legal space, the sustainable development concept has become the leading theme of many documents and legal acts, particularly those concerned with environmental protection, but also, although to a much more modest extent, those addressing the issues of socioeconomic development.

Perspective

04 March 2024

Trees—Protectors Against a Changing Climate

There are estimated to be about 3 trillion trees on Earth, or about half the number that existed before the dawn of human civilization. Trees are vital to at least four major biogeochemical cycles, namely, the carbon, water, nitrogen and oxygen cycles. In addition to absorbing carbon, and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis, trees are critical for maintaining biodiversity, providing habitat for 80% of land based wildlife, feeding the soil, generating clouds and increasing albedo (thus causing global cooling), influencing rainfall and weather patterns. The loss of trees, therefore, weakens our chances of reaching climate and biodiversity targets, and so proforestation and other practices to stringently preserve the functionality of and holistically restore forest ecosystems, must be adopted as a matter of urgency, paying due attention to soil, and species diversity including mycorrhizae; not being limited to insouciant “tree planting” solutions. Indeed, due to the tardiness of our actions to repair the Earth and its climate, severe restrictions to the cutting of mature trees must actually be enabled globally. However, this alone is not enough, and must be integrated with other forms of land, wetland, grassland and agricultural protection and restoration. Such Nature Based Solutions could provide over one-third of the climate mitigation needed by 2030 to keep within the 2 °C global heating limit. Nonetheless, it is also critical to curb greenhouse gas emissions at source, not only by implementing low-carbon, renewable energy, but also energy demand reduction strategies, such as insulating buildings, societal relocalisation, and local food growing.

Article

25 March 2024

Discussion on the Marine Protected Area on the High Seas: From the Perspective of Obligations Erga Omnes Partes

The BBNJ Agreement promotes the conservation and sustainable use of high seas marine biodiversity through the establishment of high seas protected areas. The high seas biodiversity protected by the Agreement has the nature of “obligations erga omnes partes” on an ex officio basis, but in judicial practice it is subject to a finding by the International Court of Justice that the adoption of treaty-based institutional arrangements is in the “collective interest” and that it is in the “collective interest” to adopt such arrangements. The BBNJ Agreement is currently not a “collective interest” agreement in terms of the management of the BBNJ Agreement. At present, the hybrid management model adopted in the BBNJ Agreement does not reflect the collective interest in substance, and cannot resolve the conflict between the establishment of protected areas on the high seas and other area-based management tools, so it is necessary to further harmonize the relationship between the Conference of Parties to the BBNJ and the IFB, and to strengthen the mandate of the COP.

Review

01 April 2024

Desperately Seeking Sustainable Human Well-Being: A Review of Indicators, Concepts, and Methods

Evaluating progress in human development and well-being is imperative for policymakers to assess the impact of their policies. Traditional measurement methods focus mostly on economic growth and socio-economic objectives, often neglecting vital components of the natural environment, particularly the ecological determinants essential for the sustainability of human well-being. The tension between sustainability and development becomes apparent as the recognition of the dependence of human well-being on the natural environment and ecosystem services is crucial for safeguarding the environment for present and future generations. This highlights the necessity for indicators that capture the intricate relationship between human well-being and environmental changes while addressing the challenges posed by the tension between sustainable practices and traditional development models. This paper presents a literature review examining the domains, dimensions, and indicators related to the sustainability of human well-being regarding economic, social, and natural environments. Emphasizing the multidimensional nature, this paper highlights the drawbacks of relying solely on socioeconomic indicators for assessment. The review explores diverse concepts and methodologies proposed to evaluate the components and multidimensional factors influencing the sustainability of human well-being. Ultimately it offers a holistic understanding serving as a foundation for further research and policy development.

Review

02 April 2024

Mapping the (in)Effective Enforcement of EU Environmental Law in Greece: Lessons from the EU and Domestic Courts

The effective implementation and enforcement of EU environmental law at national level constitutes a thorny issue with both legal and practical aspects. Greece is among the EU Member States which has historically faced difficulties in complying with the EU environmental acquis due to the poor functioning of the Greek administration, the limited manpower, expertise and resources (especially during the recent period of the economic crisis) for the competent authorities, the lack of political will, the low awareness of environmental problems. In this context, this paper aspires to unpack these enforcement challenges at the national level based on the case law of both the Greek Council of State and the Court of Justice of the European Union. Considering that waste management, nature protection, and water and air quality sectors are recognized as areas with the most significant deficiencies in implementation at the domestic level, the analysis will focus on these four key sectors.  To this end, by reviewing the relevant EU and Greek jurisprudence, this paper aspires to identify the disparities between the formal requirements and the practical application of EU environmental regulations in Greece in light of the national political, economic, social, and cultural dynamics. 

Article

15 April 2024

Impacts on the Legal Framework for Protecting Environmental and Human Rights in Brazil due to Ideological Antagonism: The Interrelated Cases of the Yanomami and the Amazon Fund

The occupation of the Amazon is driven by capitalist production, impacting climate change discussions. Despite constitutional protections since 1934, the influx of non-Indigenous settlers, particularly miners, led to significant conflicts. The Yanomami sought international recourse through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). In the context of redemocratization, the 1988 Constitution marked a shift, reinforcing Indigenous rights and environmental protection. Brazil’s role in protecting the rainforest intersects with global climate efforts, including the REDD+ mechanism. The creation of the Amazon Fund in 2008, aligned with REDD+ initiatives, involved international cooperation and local governance, leading to a substantial decline in Amazon deforestation between 2004 and 2012. However, exploitative practices endorsed by the State pose threats to environmental and human rights, notably affecting indigenous communities. Amid Brazil’s democracy crisis, deforestation surged in the Amazon from 2013–2022 and the Yanomami face conflicts fueled by State support for non-Indigenous groups. The Yanomami sought international recourse through the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. These issues are intensified by an ideological bias, linked to authoritarian populism rooted in the legacy of the Dictatorship. Recent initiatives aim to enhance environmental and human rights protection. However, political instability poses challenges for the future.

Article

22 April 2024

Construction of a Comprehensive International Legal Protection Mechanism for Climate Refugees

Climate refugee has become an unavoidable major right crisis challenge for the international community. However, the corresponding development of positive international law is obviously imperfect. The basic rights of climate refugees cannot be fully guaranteed by international law. They are always facing problems such as unclear legal status lack of protection of basic rights, and imperfect relief mechanism. Those vulnerable groups who lack resources and migration abilities suffer more serious rights violations because they are forced to stay in place. Compared with the risk-management framework and right-protection framework, the comprehensive international legal protection mechanism is the inevitable choice for climate refugees’ rights relief in the post-2012 period. The rights of climate refugees set out in the preamble of the Paris Agreement in 2015, the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants in 2016, the Global Refugee Compact in 2018, and the Global Compact for Security, Order and Regular Migration formally incorporated the issues of refugees and migrants caused by climate change, laying the foundation for this choice. However, it is a long and difficult way to build a perfect comprehensive international response to climate change. It is not only necessary to realize the integration of human rights law and climate law at the conceptual level, but also to integrate the different perspectives of the two laws and build a set of scientific and reasonable cooperation mechanism.

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