Climate Change and Disaster Law – University of Copenhagen

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Climate Change and Disaster Law

Nature has always been crucial for human existence. Today however, the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change has become one of the grand challenges of our time, and, on a more practical level, the management of the increasing number of disasters, following in the wake of these changes, has become an increasingly pressing issue.

In CILCCs thematic cluster, Climate Change and Disaster Law, we have gathered the Faculty researchers working with climate change, especially as a cause for crisis, where research efforts are directed to reducing climate change associated risks.

The cluster approaches this issue in three ways.

The research trajectory climate change mitigation investigates how greenhouse gas emission can be better addressed in order to set the world in a low-carbon path. This research trajectory focuses in particular in areas and sectors largely unregulated.

The research trajectory climate change adaption sets out to define the role that regulation can play in developing countries’ adaptation to climate change – and draw up ‘standard regulatory schemes’ that may help these countries adapting to the threats of climate change.

The research trajectory disaster law and policy deal with the concrete governance of the disasters that follow climate change. The research includes European, global and national contributions to drawing up fairer and more effective regulation addressing whole disaster management cycle.

Read more about the work of the three research trajectories here:

Climate Change Mitigation

In 2015, two major political achievements set the world in a path towards sustainability and decarbonization for the century.

First, the UN Assembly Resolution ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ established 17 Sustainable Development Goals to guide countries’ decisions over the next fifteen years.  Among them, Goal number 13 urges countries to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Second, the Paris Climate Agreement established a long-term goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C (aspirational 1.5°C) above pre-industrial levels. This goal entails that countries have to deploy action to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter to achieve a balance between sources and sinks of GHGs in the second half of this century.

The above developments can be translated into two main features for climate change mitigation law in the forthcoming years: 1) The carbon budget from now until 2050 is very tight, so early action and high level of ambition are key. 2) In order to transit to a low-carbon society, and eventually phase out fossil fuels, it is necessary to put in place regulation able to trigger technology and societal changes.

Research under this theme focuses, mainly, on two sectors of the economy that have remained largely unregulated (international aviation and maritime transport), and whose regulation is crucial to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. Under this project the role of industry climate-related voluntary measures, market-based mechanisms (pricing carbon emissions)and climate change litigation are explored.

The Transatlantic Maritime Emissions Research Network (TRAMEREN) was established in 2016 as the first research network on maritime actors and climate change.

Contact: Beatriz Martinez Romera

Climate change adaptation and loss & damage

Most scientists agree that the effects of climate change are one of the world’s greatest challenges. Global and domestic policy-makers are increasingly addressing issues related to the vicious cycle of climate change through mitigation, adaptation and, most recently with the 2015 Paris Agreement, loss and damage. This is done in the recognition that climate change is contributing to the degradation of environments and limiting societal development: we are continuingly seeing how it destroys livelihoods and infrastructures, leads to food insecurity, market failure and mass migration among other ills of a truly global scale.

CILCC’s cluster Climate and Disaster Law houses a group of researchers, who pour their energy into the multiple issues related to adaptation and loss & damage policies, particularly in developing countries. They do this by seeking answers to the following over-arching question: What role does regulation play in solving climate change-related challenges to sustainable human and environmental existence?

It is a question, which lends itself to an inter-disciplinary enquiry spanning law as well as the social and political sciences, and researchers apply a mixed methods approach. The question is sought answered through a collaboration between seasoned professors, lecturers, post docs and PhD students. At the heart of the enquiry is an empirical and conceptual focus on regulation as a particular mode of intervention – one that promotes resilience as the core objective of policy and societal change. As such, this research agenda appeals to both an academic and policy audience.

On-going projects count:

  • Loss & Damage after the Paris Agreement.
  • Climate change induced migration.
  • Improving food security through the use of market regulatory mechanisms.

Disaster Law and Policy

In the light of recent natural and human-caused disasters such as the L’Aquila earthquake (2009), the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Mexican Gulf (2010), the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the 2013 European floods, disaster has become an increasingly important issue for stakeholders, academia and society at large. While disasters were once viewed as God’s wrath or as nature’s unforeseeable rage, disasters are today perceived as our own inability to avoid or foresee them. The key concepts in modern disaster research – vulnerability, risk and resilience – are all fundamentally inherent in social structures and concepts. Thus, the governance of disasters today is entirely dependent on the organization of society, and thereby on our ability to regulate.

The research group on disaster law and policy deals with a broad range of issues relevant to the governance of disasters. The group bridges law and social science, and is actively engaged in a number of cross-institutional and international networks addressing similar challenges.

Contact: Kristian Cedervall Lauta

Research group:
Kristian Cedervall Lauta, Emmanuel Raju, Kristoffer Albris, Nathan Edward Clarke, Maja Kielberg,  Beatriz Martinez Romera

Read more:

ESPREssO COPE NORDRESS

Participants: Kristian Cedervall Lauta, Emmanuel Raju, Kristoffer Albris, Nathan Edward Clarke, Maja Kielberg.