Vulnerability and the Climate Change Regime

By Mboya, Atieno | UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Summer 2018 | Go to article overview

Vulnerability and the Climate Change Regime


Mboya, Atieno, UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy


Climate change is precipitating social issues that are not traceable to a discreet, culpable actor. This is because greenhouse gas accumulation in the stratosphere is a global problem transcending the socio-political boundaries that law uses to assign responsibility. The diffuse nature of climate change calls for new legal approaches that can provide greater juridical responsiveness (1) to social problems and universal human vulnerability that is emerging in the wake of one of the most pressing environmental challenges facing the international community today. (2) Those social problems include displacement and dispossession of indigenous communities whose livelihoods depend directly on their environment, such as Arctic communities in Alaska, rural dwellers in the Himalayas, livestock farmers in the Kalahari, and forest-dwellers in the Amazon. (3) Farming communities reliant upon rain-fed agriculture also face food insecurity due to changing, unpredictable rainfall patterns. (4) While social impacts may be most keenly felt at the local level, the global nature of climate change means that jurisprudential bases of law at all levels-local, national, regional, and international (5)--need to promote coherent legal responses that recognize the global genesis of what may be seen as localized problems.

This essay will draw on human vulnerability theory to discuss law's role in promoting social justice in the wake of climate change. Vulnerability is the "characteristic that positions us in relation to each other as human beings and also suggests a relationship of responsibility between the state and its institutions and the individual." (6) Vulnerability theory critiques the contemporary understanding of "the legal subject," which is built on an ideology that values liberty over equality and manipulates contractual concepts such as choice and consent to justify exploitation and structural inequality. (7) That inequality has distorted and constrained the conception of the legal subject into a narrow and limited autonomous subject that is at the center of the analysis that law uses to organize society. (8) Human vulnerability theory calls for enriching the legal subject by placing it in social context, and engaging with its complex and dynamic characteristics.

The paper is divided into five Parts. Part I provides an overview of human vulnerability theory. Part II presents a vulnerability perspective on liberalism and neoliberalism, two theories that underlie the current global climate regime. Part III examines the concept of vulnerability in the climate discourse, while Part IV applies human vulnerability theory to the global climate regime. The final part states the conclusions.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  I. Human Vulnerability Theory
 II. Liberalism and Human Vulnerability
III. Vulnerability in the Climate Regime
 IV. Human Vulnerability Analysis and the Climate Regime
CONCLUSIONS

I. HUMAN VULNERABILITY THEORY

Human vulnerability analysis is a mode of studying law and institutions. It draws from empirical realities of the human condition, situating the legal subject as a complex, multifaceted person whose engagement with the law is normally begins at birth (through birth registration, for example) and continues into childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. At each stage, a constant characteristic of the human condition is that of vulnerability, which arises from physical embodiment. This vulnerable subject, it is posited, should be regarded as the true subject of law and placed at the center of state and institutional programs whose role is to foster resilience across the life-span. In this context, resilience is best understood as the capacity to withstand or survive harm, deprivation, or injury.

The vulnerable subject is a legal entity that transcends the autonomous, independent, liberal legal subject that captures just one stage in the life course--that of the independent adult at the peak of physical resilience. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Vulnerability and the Climate Change Regime
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.