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Framing time in climate change litigation

Hilson, C. (2019) Framing time in climate change litigation. Onati Socio-Legal Series, 9 (3). pp. 361-379. ISSN 2079-5971

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To link to this item DOI: 10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1063

Abstract/Summary

Time is of the essence in relation to climate change. However, there have been few studies of how time features as a frame in legal mobilization against climate change. The current paper explores temporal framing in pleadings and judgments in a number of high profile climate litigation cases, including Urgenda, Kivalina, Kingsnorth, and the current US Our Children’s Trust proceedings. I argue that there is a tension between a future-looking scientific framing of time and both an environmentalist policy framing of time and a present-based scientific time frame. Under future-looking scientific framing, the effects of dangerous climate change have not yet occurred and remain some way off in the 'modelled’ future. Under an environmentalist policy time frame, action is needed immediately, now in the present, and with a present scientific time frame climate harm is already happening or is imminent. However, the environmentalist policy frame and the present scientific time frame potentially challenge certain received legal doctrines and could therefore prove legally disruptive.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:75890
Publisher:Onati International Institute for the Sociology of Law

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