Climate Justice: Case Studies in Global and Regional Governance Challenges

Climate Justice
Randall S. Abate
Release Date

Climate change is one of the most complex political, social, and environmental issues of this century, and climate change adaptation has become an increasingly large focus of global efforts. The international community’s attention on adaptation has been primarily focused on developing countries’ needs, with consensus that the world’s most vulnerable communities—the urban and rural poor, low-lying island nations, and indigenous peoples—require additional protection. It was in response to this need for equity that “climate justice” emerged.

Climate justice can be defined generally as addressing the disproportionate burden of climate change impacts on poor and marginalized communities. It seeks to promote more equitable allocation of the burdens of these impacts at the local, national, and global levels through proactive regulatory initiatives and reactive judicial remedies that draw on international human rights and domestic environmental justice theories. Yet, efforts to define climate justice as a field of inquiry can be elusive and underinclusive because the concept is so vast in scope.

Climate Justice: Case Studies in Global and Regional Governance Challenges seeks to fill that void, providing an overview of the landscape of climate justice from a variety of legal and geographic perspectives in a case study format. Drawing on the expertise of 29 contributors from 16 countries, the book analyzes climate justice from an international law perspective and from the perspectives of legal responses to promote climate justice in several regions of the world, including Pacific island nations, South Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. It addresses proposed solutions to a range of regulatory obstacles under international law, U.S. law, and foreign domestic law in seeking to promote climate justice on a global scale.

Watch Professor Abate Speak on this Issue in Episode 23 of Law Matters – Climate Change Refugees

About the Author

Randall S. Abate is the inaugural Rechnitz Family Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy and a Professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology at Monmouth University. He teaches courses in domestic and international environmental law, constitutional law, and animal law. Professor Abate joined the Monmouth faculty in 2018 with 24 years of full-time law teaching experience at six U.S. law schools, most recently as a Professor of Law from 2009-2018 at Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando, Florida, where he also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 2017. He has also taught at Florida State University College of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, Rutgers School of Law (Camden), Widener University School of Law (Harrisburg), and Vermont Law School. Professor Abate has taught international and comparative law courses—and delivered lecture series—on environmental and animal law topics in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Vanuatu. In April 2014, he taught a Climate Change Law and Justice course at the National Law Academy in Odessa, Ukraine on a Fulbright Specialist grant.

Professor Abate has delivered invited lectures on climate justice and animal law topics at several of the top law schools in the world, including Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, and Seoul National University.

Professor Abate has published five books—and more than thirty law journal articles and book chapters—on environmental and animal law topics, with a recent emphasis on climate change law and justice. Early in his career, Professor Abate handled environmental law matters at two law firms in Manhattan.

Book Reviews

“The collection of case studies featured in Climate Justice covers an impressive range of territory and topics. Viewing climate change governance from international and regional perspectives, from North America to South Asia, Africa and the Middle East to Pacific island countries, the contributors carefully ground climate justice’s theory in real-world examples. Through them, a broadly defined concept like climate justice—one that seeks to identify and remedy the disproportionate burden of climate change impacts borne by those who contributed little to them—takes form. Whether viewed through the prism of procedural or substantive rights, international treaties or national laws, government regulation or private litigation, the practical lens consistently used by this group of scholars and practitioners hones our understanding of why and how climate change is a human rights issue. In addition, this book’s emphasis on adaptation fills a gap in the field and reflects the direction embodied in the Paris Agreement. It moves the reader to understand and redefine our climate legacy to future generations.”  
—Tracy Bach, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School,
and founding Associate Director and Senior Research Fellow
of the Climate Legacy Initiative

“This book explores the extraordinary challenges climate change is posing to the planet’s environment.  It provides a rich snapshot of the innovative legal and policy responses climate change is spawning in every corner of the world. A diverse group of scholars explores why fairness to present and future generations should be the touchstone for crafting climate policy and avenues for pursuing this important goal.”
—Robert V. Percival, Robert F. Stanton Professor of Law & Director, Environmental Law Program,
University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

“True to form, Prof. Randall Abate has again managed to provide us with a highly topical and comprehensively researched text on a critical issue: climate justice. The unique strengths, theoretical and practical relevance, and original added value of the text, lie in its being fashioned on a wide range of case studies that have been authored by a terrifically cosmopolitan collection of multi-disciplinary experts working in a wide range of professions and hailing from developed and developing country contexts. The book provides new insights to an exceptionally broad audience on the urgency of achieving climate justice across a wide range of sectors, ranging from international governance, regional governance, domestic scenarios, and very pertinently, the global judiciary. The book will no doubt become an important resource for, among others, students, scholars, practitioners, governments and non-governmental organisations in their efforts to achieve global climate justice.”
—Professor Louis J. Kotzé, Research Professor, North-West University, South Africa

“Climate change is the defining issue of humankind, involving and invoking a complex pastiche of science, fear, resignation, governance and human will. The question is whether, and if so how, justice can be done in adapting to the Anthropocene. Climate Justice: Case Studies in Global and Regional Governance Challenges elevates the climate change conversation above the stultifying echo-chamber of what to do into the realm of how international, national, regional and local legal regimes can help to level otherwise unbalanced outcomes. The book’s 24 chapters are a globe-trotting account of how to advance environmental justice, intergenerational equity, and human dignity in the wake of a planetary changes more often than not disproportionately afflicting the poor, urban, indigenous, disenfranchised and disempowered, from the Arctic to Kenya, from Kiribati to Amazonia, and from all of us to each of us. So hold your frequent flyer miles at bay, and enjoy this eye-popping account of what climate justice means to the intercontinental human condition that connects us all.”
—James R. May, Distinguished Professor of Law  & Chief Sustainability Officer, Widener University

“While climate change is often framed as a problem of science, of economics, and of politics, climate justice reminds us that it is law that is called upon for solutions. Professor Abate’s new edited volume on climate justice cuts new ground in centering justice as the core around which issues of finance, of governance, of participation, and of litigation strategy rotate (and sometimes flounder). Finally there is a resource which brings together perspectives, and detailed new case studies, from all corners of the globe to address an issue which respects few boundaries.”
— Natasha Affolder, Associate Dean Research and International, Peter A. Allard School of Law,
The University of British Columbia

“Climate Justice Case Studies in Global and Regional Governance Challenge is essential reading for policy makers, activists, and citizens interested in moving beyond the polarizing rhetoric on climate change and toward real solutions to protect present and future generations. The text addresses a remarkably diverse set of topics that collectively demonstrate the increasing complexity of addressing climate change and its impacts on some of the most vulnerable communities of the world. Topics include the physical impacts of climate change, energy infrastructure and financing, human rights, environmental justice, global policy initiatives and other emerging issues. Each chapter provides a thorough, insightful, and engaging examination of a key issue impacting climate justice throughout the world. Through evidence-based case studies and thoughtful analysis of existing law and policy the text provides a valuable roadmap for effectively responding to the many challenges of climate change.”
—Eric V. Hull, Professor of Law,  Florida Coastal School of Law

“The overarching message of the spectacular Climate Justice: Studies in Global and Regional Governance Challenges is:  the means are the ends in the making. That is to say, how we address the present and future, urgent threats of climate change will determine what our planet looks like and who will survive and thrive.  Professor Abate’s volume brings together a stellar array of scholars to address this most important ethical problem of our generation.”
—David Takacs, Professor,  University of California Hastings College of the Law