The various reports of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), more than anything else, cleared all doubts as to whether the earth is indeed warming up. Thermometers in over 17,000 weather Stations could not be argued with. Man-made (anthropogenic) activities have resulted in unpredictable and profound changes that alter the composition of the global atmosphere causing significant deleterious effects. Ever since, the concern of international law has been how to achieve substantial reduction of emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) which were found to be responsible for global warming and the resultant change in climate conditions. Given that the threat of human induced climate change represents a classic collective problem affecting everyone, there has been an increasing international effort to mitigate climate impacts both by State and non-State actors alike even as the international community under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has just negotiated a new climate agreement.
This work articulates the international legal regime on climate change in a manner that highlights its relevant scientific theories thus providing the basis for ascertaining whether the extant legal regime on climate change has equaled the seeming global concerns as to its severity on the environment, human health, human rights and trade and development due to its voluntary contributions, ratchet mechanism and non punitive nature. It was found that the rapidly growing consensus as to the severity of climate change however remains at odds with the slow rate of progress in addressing the problems through international cooperation even when scientific theories of the carbon cycle, the greenhouse effect, gia-hypothesis, anthropocentrism, bio-centrism, eco-centrism and eco-feminism all provide proof of the reality of climate change. From negotiation to enforcement; International climate change laws have proven to be most challenging in the history of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) due to diverse interests.
The north-south dichotomy and other divergent interests which has characterised international law on climate change have greatly impinged upon the realisation of the intents of MEAs on climate change due largely to the blame game between the two divides and reluctance to sacrifice today’s development for the sustainability of the future. International laws through its principles of sustainable development, precautionary principle, polluters- pay, common but differentiated responsibility, state cooperation, and sovereign rights of natural resources “no-harm rule” tend to limit States’ sovereignty. It was found that International law has played tremendous role in diversifying approaches to international environmental laws on climate change through strict interpretation of the principle of pacta sunt servanda, regarding climate change obligations as one erga omnes and recognition of non-state actors in climate advocacy. The study adopted doctrinal, analytical and comparative designs. Reliance was placed on primary and secondary source materials relevant to the topic. The primary sources include treaties, conventions, protocols ,resolutions. Secondary source materials relied on include: textbooks, journals articles, historical records, Case reviews, Bible and Quran recourse of which was had in the analysis of existing international laws on climate change. Emphasis was placed on empirical data gathered through tables, graphs and pictures, analysed to drive home the concept of, and impact of climate change while comparatively reviewing the responses of countries and other State and Non-State actors to mitigate the problem of climate change. Analyses of the data were through deductive reasoning based on statutes and case law.
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IMPACTS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW ON CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION