Climate change

Melting ice pack - climate change

Photo - Ice Chaos, Kulusuk, Greenland, Nick Russill, Flickr Creative Commons

Governance, Law and Social research in the area of climate change has addressed both causes and effects, and especially the politics, legal contours and ethics of possibilities for reducing and modifying such change and for adapting to the changes which are now underway.

We anticipate that adaptation to these changes will grow, especially impacting low-income countries and low-income groups. GLSJ members have lengthy experience in this field, including in cooperation with:

  • the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and in particular Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, as well as researchers in Norway (at: CICERO – Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo; University of Bergen;
  • Christian Michelsen Institute, Bergen, University of Oslo; and
  • in associated networks with members especially in the USA (Pennsylvania State University; University of Washington) and South Africa (Universities of Kwazulu Natal and Witwatersrand).

We welcome inquiries from prospective PhD students with interests in these topics.

Research outputs

    Des Gasper has written a series of recent papers on the languages in which climate change discussions are conducted.

    Two papers explore how some major international reports address climate change policy: the Human Development Reports of 2007/8 and 2011 and the World Development Report of 2010; and especially to what extent human rights thinking influences their framing of the problem and/or of the appropriate policy responses.

    Three other papers look at the possible value-added of a human security framework for thinking about climate change, in comparison to (and in complementarity with) the conventional economics languages of ‘market failure’, ‘public goods’, (market) incentives, and (economic) cost-benefit analysis, and the alternative policy languages of human rights and human development.

    Publications in this area include:

    2018: (with E.A.T. Hermansen, G. Sundqvist, S. Yearley, A.L. St.Clair, K. Flottum, & J. Painter) Fra Symfoni Til Kakofoni - Rapportene fra FNs klimapanel og reisen mot relevans. [From Symphony to Cacophony - The reports of the UN climate panel and the journey towards relevance]. In K. Bjorkdahl (Ed.), Rapporten - sjanger og styringsverktøy (pp. 127-155). Oslo: Pax Forlag

    2017: (with G. Sundqvist, A.L. St. Clair, E. Hermandsen, S. Yearley, I.O. Tvedten & B. Wynne). One world or two? Science–policy interactions in the climate field.Opens external Critical Policy Studies, 1-21.

    2015: Precautionary? Principled? In D. Kamal & M. Di Paola (Eds.), Climate Change and Human Rights: The 2015 Paris Conference and the Task of Protecting People on a Warming Planet. Sussex: Global Policy (Wiley-Blackwell)

    2014: Human security analysis as a framework for value-oriented governance – the example of climate change. International Journal of Social Quality, 4 (2), 6-27.

    2013: The Framing Of Climate Change And Development:  A Comparative Analysis of the Human Development Report 2007/8 and the World Development Report 2010. Co-authors A.V. Portocarrero & A. St. Clair. Global Environmental Change 23 (2013): 28-39. An earlier version is at:

    2013: An Analysis of the Human Development Report 2011 ‘Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All’. Co-authors A.V. Portocarrero, A.L. St.Clair. In S. African J. on Human Rights, 2013-1: 91-124.

    2013: Climate Change and the Language of Human Security. Ethics, Policy and Environment, 16(1), 56-78.
    This paper was written for a conference at Pennsylvania State University that brought together researchers from climate change ethics and development ethics and that led to a special journal issue. An earlier version is at as ISS Working Paper 505.

    2013: Elements and value-added of a human security approach in the study of climate change. Forthcoming in Handbook of Climate Change and Human Security, eds. M. Redclift and M. Grasso. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    Syrian refugees

    Photo: Syrian Refugees, Inhabitat, Creative Commons

    Karin Arts has conducted research on the legal contours of climate change, and in particular its relevance to the rights of children in international law.

    Publications include:

    2017: Inclusive Sustainable Development: A Human Rights Perspective.Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 24, 58-62.

    2017: (with Gupta, J.) Achieving the 1.5 °C Objective: Just Implementation Through a Right to (Sustainable) Development Approach International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18 (1), 11-28.

    2009: A Child Rights Perspective on Climate Change. In M.A. Mohamed Salih (Ed.), Climate Change and Sustainable Development: New Challenges for Poverty Reduction (pp. 79-93). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    2004: (with Gupta, J.) Climate Change and Hazardous Waste Law: Developing International Law of Sustainable Development. In N. Schrijver & F. Weiss (Eds.), International Law and Sustainable Development: Principle and Practice (pp. 519-551). Leiden; Boston: Martinus Nijhoff.

    Mohamed Salih (as of 2017 emeritus) has served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which in 2007 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Among his publications on this topic are:

    2013: Local Climate Change and Society. London & New York: Routledge.

    2009: Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Challenges for Poverty Reduction in the 21st Century. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    2012: Climate Change and the Protection of Vulnerable Collectivities. In I. Boerfijn, L. Henderson, R. Janes & R. Weaver (Eds.), Human Rights and Conflict, Essays in Honour of Bas de Gaay Fortman (pp. 199-212). Cambridge, Antwerp and Portland: Intersentia.

    2009: Introduction. In M.A.M. Salih (Ed.), Climate Change and Sustainable Development: New Challenges for Poverty Reduction in the 21st Century (pp. 1-16). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    2001: Climate Change and Local Vulnerability. In (pp. 203-219) London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

    Waist-deep in water due to flooding

    Photo: Flooding -, Creative Commons: Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties

    Sunil Tankha has also been undertaking work on climate change adaptation policy in South Asia.

    Previous research in this area includes:

    2015: (with Rauken, T.) ‘Climate politics, emission scenarios and negotiation stances in India’ In G Bang, A Underdal & S Andresen (Eds.), The domestic politics of global climate change : key actors in international climate cooperation (pp. 95-118). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar

    2010: (with Gasper, D.) Trees and water: mainstreaming environment in the graduate public policy curriculum. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 16(4), 621-644.