The comparative law of climate change : a research agenda

Mehling, Michael (2015) The comparative law of climate change : a research agenda. Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law, 24 (3). pp. 341-352. ISSN 2050-0394 (

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Climate change defies traditional models of academic enquiry; its scale and complexity strain the explanatory power of established thought, prompting the espousal of new, fluid concepts and calls for greater interdisciplinarity. Law, with its rigid doctrines and insistence on binary categories, appears particularly unsuited as a framework of analysis. However, as this article submits, the legal method offers a unique vessel to infer collective understandings of the climate challenge, helping bridge the divide between fact and norm that characterizes other intellectual paradigms. A shifting focal point from international to domestic climate action suggests the particular utility of comparative law, which can identify policy barriers and drivers, and add a vital dimension to the study of policy design and transfer. Invoking the epistemic value of legal exegesis, this article proposes a research agenda for comparative analysis in a rapidly evolving issue area, which, although not yet a field of law in its own right, offers ample opportunities for study: the law as it relates to climate change.