Environmental law is the law concerned with environmental problems. It is a vast area of law that operates from the local to the global, involving a range of different legal and regulatory techniques. In theory, environmental protection is a no-brainer. Few people would actively argue for pollution or environmental destruction. Ensuring a clean environment is ethically desirable, and also sensible from a purely self-interested perspective. Yet, in practice, environmental law is a messy and complex business fraught with conflict. Whilst environmental law is often characterized in overly simplistic terms, with a law being seen as a magic wand that solves an environmental problem, the reality is that creating and maintaining a body of laws to address and avoid problems is not easy, and involves legislators, courts, regulators and communities.
This Very Short Introduction provides an overview of the main features of environmental law and discusses how environmental law deals with multiple interests, socio-political conflicts, and the limits of knowledge about the environment. Showing how interdependent societies across the world have developed robust and legitimate bodies of law to address environmental problems, Elizabeth Fisher discusses some of the major issues involved in environmental laws: nation-statehood, power, the reframing role of law, the need to ensure real environmental improvements, and environmental justice. As Fisher explains, environmental law is, and will always be, necessary but inherently controversial.
2. Environmental problems
3. The substance of environmental law
4. The history of environmental law
5. Expanding legal imagination
6. The significance of nation states
7. Power and accountability in environmental law
8. Ensuring the effectiveness of environmental law
9. The many forms of environmental justice
Professor Elizabeth Fisher is a Professor of Environmental Law in the Faculty of Law and at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford. She has won awards for both her teaching and her scholarship and is the General Editor of the Journal of Environmental Law.
"To write shortly about complex subjects takes considerable time and even more knowledge and skill. Fisher has successfully used both to craft short, sharp and succinct stories that lucidly explain and enliven environmental law."
– The Hon. Justice Brian Preston SC