Technocratic, Liberal-Conservative and Transformative: Varieties of Environmental Constitutionalism

In recent years, constitutional law has been forced to confront the increasing urgency of environmental crises. A range of proposals and practices have emerged in relation to constitutional design and interpretation. From the Chilean constitutional convention to the German Constitutional Court, constitutional actors are grappling with the environment’s implications for the future of constitutional law.
This paper analyzes this emerging concept of “environmental constitutionalism”. I argue that within particular proposals and practices of environmental constitutionalism are embedded a range of different ideas or “imaginaries” about the role of constitutions, and the environment. There is no single imaginary, but rather at least three: technocratic, liberal-conservative, and transformative. As environmental constitutionalism gathers momentum, it will be increasingly important to pay attention to these imaginaries and the implications that they have for constitutional design.