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Rethinking the role of law in adapting to climate change


McDonald, J and McCormack, P, Rethinking the role of law in adapting to climate change, WIREs Climate Change, 12, (5) Article e726. ISSN 1757-7799 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

DOI: doi:10.1002/wcc.726


The article evaluates the role of law in adaptation over the past decade. We track the emergence of international adaptation law within the climate and non-climate regime, alongside increasingly dire extreme events and strident scientific consensus. Examining the growth in national and subnational laws for adaptation, we reflect on the role of framework legislation and legal mechanisms used in sectoral laws. Based on progress over the past decade, we outline how the role of law can be enhanced and accelerated in the decade ahead. We identify important trends in adaptation law and consider the potential for these innovations to drive future adaptation: the sheer growth in priority and volume of laws directed towards adaptation; the intersection of adaptation with other policy domains, especially disaster risk reduction; the need for improved architecture for funding adaptation; and the important role of strategic litigation. Largely absent from the past decade of adaptation law reform is evaluation of effectiveness, or examples of systemic reform that addresses underlying causes of vulnerability. With slow progress in implementing transformational adaptation law reform, we identify five design principles for adaptation laws. The design of laws must (1) be responsive to change; (2) address equity dimensions of climate change; (3) implement innovative solutions; (4) maximize co-benefits; and (5) establish processes for managing trade-offs.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:adaptation law, barriers, design principles, equity, international law
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Environmental and resources law
Research Field:Climate change law
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem)
UTAS Author:McDonald, J (Professor Jan McDonald)
UTAS Author:McCormack, P (Ms Phillipa McCormack)
ID Code:145695
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Law
Deposited On:2021-08-02
Last Modified:2022-10-20
Downloads:4 View Download Statistics

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