Beyond the anthropocene: an ecocentric and rights of nature approach to climate justice

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Hewitt, Nicholas
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The age of the Anthropocene has damaged the planet in unimaginable ways leading to the crisis of climate change, which poses an existential threat to all life on Earth. In reaction to this crisis there has been a call for climate justice. Climate justice is often viewed as a means to protect humans and consequently human rights. This paper explores the idea that there can be no protection of either without first protecting the Earths ecosystems. It argues that we forego the current anthropocentric model of climate justice in favor of one that is ecocentric. It addresses that this approach is best informed by the Rights of Nature as inspired by Indigenous cosmologies. The first chapters lay the groundwork for this argument by analyzing the Anthropocene, theories of climate justice, ecocentrism, and Earth Jurisprudence. In the subsequent chapters it shows how climate change is a threat to human rights and argues for an expansion of rights that encompasses an ecocentric approach. It then discusses the Rights of Nature movement and Indigenous cosmologies making the argument for more legal pluralism to be added to Western law. Further, it examines significant court cases and constitutions that acknowledge the Rights of Nature. Finally, it explores the potential of a crime of ecocide as a way to enact legally binding climate justice for all beings. Ultimately it concludes that an ecocentric and Rights of Nature approach to climate justice would be most effective if reinforced by an international law of ecocide and restorative justice.
Second semester University: University of Deusto, Bilbao
climatic changes, human ecology, environment, environmental ethics, justice, environmental law, environmental policy, nature, pluralism, restorative justice