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Advanced Introduction to International Environmental Law

Ellen Hey

This Advanced Introduction provides both an overview and a critical assessment of international environmental law (IEL) written by one of the leading authorities in this field. An invaluable entry point to this complex area of the law, the book pinpoints essential principles and institutions and distils the vast and often technical corpus of legal doctrine whilst also offering insights that stimulate critical thinking. Covering the origins, substantive content, institutional structure and accountability mechanisms of IEL, the book discusses substantive and procedural fairness, thus exploring questions of distributive justice, accountability and legitimacy. Providing an invaluable entry point to this complex area of the law, this book will prove a useful resource for professors, practitioners and policy-makers needing to quickly gain an understanding of the core principles of this multi-faceted topic. It will also serve as a stimulating introductory text for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
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1 Setting the scene

Ellen Hey

Extract

This chapter sets the scene and its first section provides a rough sketch of the types of problems that contemporary international environmental law seeks to address and of the complex institutions that constitute it. Accordingly, this first section considers three questions: what does international environmental law deal with, who makes it and where do we find it? The remainder of the chapter considers issues of terminology, and sets out the aims and outline of the book.

International environmental law aims to address the negative impacts that humans have on the environment with the objective of protecting and conserving the environment. Human impacts on the environment derive from the myriad of activities that we engage in, including the introduction of substances into the environment and the taking of elements from the environment for direct human use or for developing products that are useful to humans. Think of, respectively, the introduction of chemicals into the environment through the use of pesticides in agriculture or as a result of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the process of mining shale gas; the taking of fish or other wild animals for human consumption or as hunting trophies; and the use of timber as building material or minerals in industrial processes.

Human life depends on natural processes such as the pollination of plants by insects, the purification of water by wetlands and the protective shield that the ozone layer provides against an overdose of ultraviolet sunlight. While some of the benefits that nature...

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