Certain legal aspects of the multilateral trade system and the promotion of renewable energy

Rafael Leal-Arcas, Andrew Filis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Environmental degradation occurs due to a variety of reasons, including processes that are entirely inherent to nature.1 However, in recent history, the rate of environmental degradation has been ostensibly more rapid than during the previous millennia of organized human society.2 What is more, we are fast approaching the tipping point after which environmental degradation may become irreversible.3 This excessiveness in ‘climate change’ has largely been anthropogenic in that it flows from the effects of human habitation. Moreover, environmental degradation operates dynamically in that the anthropogenic effects on the environment may themselves cause or contribute to further environmental degradation. To illustrate this point, let us take the example of greenhouse gases (GHGs), which are almost entirely human caused. The concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere not only degrades the content of the atmosphere, but also reproduces the ‘greenhouse effect,’ thus trapping a significant part of energy and heat that the earth, having previously absorbed these from the sun, subsequently reflects back into space. The effect of this phenomenon is the rise of the temperature of the earth that, in turn, has far-reaching consequences - including desertification and the melting of frozen parts of polar water-bodies and territories - for the natural landscape and the human, animal, and plant populations sustained by the ecosystem. In light of the above, it is unsurprising that climate change is a concern to many a state and an inter-state actor. What may to some be more surprising, though not entirely bemusing, are the underwhelming efforts on the part of the international ‘community’ to meaningfully address climate change. While a gathering - for lack of a better word - of state actors indeed exists, in our view, this does not possess the characteristics of a community with paritous interests. References to an international community often disguise the fact that what we are dealing with is, essentially, a collection of sovereign entities that, while formally enjoying the legal equality flowing from their sovereign status, in reality, are as highly disparate among themselves as their interests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Economic Law After the Global Crisis
Subtitle of host publicationA Tale of Fragmented Disciplines
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9781139871853
ISBN (Print)9781107075696
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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