Emily Webster

Thesis title:

In Search of ‘Climate Change Law’: Public Goods and Private Actors in the Age of Regulatory Governance


While global cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been bolstered by the 2015 Paris Agreement, responsibility for climate change mitigation and adaptation remains vested with the individual state. Nevertheless, and in part due to significant inaction at the international and domestic level prior to the conclusion of the Paris Agreement, a complex system of climate change governance has evolved. The use of hard and soft law, networks of actors, and the emergence of new methods of governance wholly outside of the state, has provided momentum on climate change when little was forthcoming.Emily’s thesis aims to investigate the legal and regulatory approaches taken by states within the overall governance system to examine its appropriateness for climate change mitigation in line with the Paris Agreement’s target to keep global temperature increases “well-below 2°C”. Specifically, it will investigate the UK’s legal and regulatory approaches to greenhouse gas emissions relating to corporations in the energy sector. This will involve an investigation of direct regulatory intervention to promote mitigation and indirect interventions though the amendment of existing corporate legislation and the use of litigation. The UK is an interesting site of study for several reasons. As a current member of the EU and as such subject to its climate change mitigation and adaptation approaches, it will provide an opportunity to investigate EU law and policy in this area. Due to Brexit, the study will also provide a unique opportunity to investigate an approach to climate change mitigation in the context of overriding political preoccupation and economic uncertainty. This focus on the UK will be supplemented by comparative studies with approaches from other jurisdictions allowing an investigation into the difficulties and opportunities facing corporations when acting across borders.

First supervisor:

Leslie-Anne Duvic-Paoli


9 – Political Ecology, Energy & Environmental Health