Mapping the “Climate Constitution”: Rights and Beyond

Mitigating and adapting to the Climate Crisis will require decisions and actions regarding coordination and distribution. These challenges are the very essence of constitutional law and theory. Yet the Climate Crisis has remained peripheral to comparative constitutional law (CCL).

Part One assesses emerging approaches to the Climate Crisis in CCL. These approaches are dominated by rights-based frameworks, especially the “right to a healthy environment”. Part Two critiques this focus on rights and courts, drawing on skepticism of the distributional impacts of rights, as well as more recent empirical critiques. While rights ought not be dismissed, they are not a comprehensive response to the Climate Crisis.

Part Three concludes with suggestions for CCL’s future engagement with the Climate Crisis. Responses ought not be hemmed in by an exclusively rights-based approach. Rather, the full range of CCL’s analytical tools must be applied; a comprehensive research agenda is needed.