Introduction: Using discourse theory to untangle public and international environmental law

Brad Jessup, Kim Rubenstein

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookOther chapter contribution

4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction The world is talking, pondering and strategising about the environment. Ever more of the environment has been identified, publicly contemplated, or designated for despoliation and resource extraction. Remote and ‘wild’ places like the rugged Australian Kimberley and the far reaches of North America are now subject to advanced plans for fossil fuel extraction. Environmental disasters, including fires, floods, cyclones, earthquakes and tsunami, and schemes to alleviate or prevent future human suffering from catastrophe, have occupied governmental and organisational attention. Meanwhile, concerns about environmental degradation, and in particular human-induced climate change, dominate Western media and national and international politics, and are connecting communities through conversation and localised action. The nature, breadth and extent of global responses to climate change are also points of contention between the developing and developed worlds. The discussion, arguments and posturing about the environment have sometimes led to the development of laws or legal institutions to mitigate environmental harm at the international, national or sub-national levels. Pollution control legislation, environmental assessment laws and land reservation laws have spread across public legal systems, particularly since the late 1960s. At the same time, the international community has recognised its responsibility to manage the global environment and has agreed to regulate parts of the environment, especially the atmosphere, oceans, heritage and biological diversity. As environmental economists have become more involved in environmental debates, the world also now aims to protect the environment through ecological commodification.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Discourses in Public and International Law
EditorsBrad Jessup, Kim Rubenstein
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781139094610
ISBN (Print)9781107019423
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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