The Public Law Paradoxes of Climate Emergency Declarations

Research output: Working paper


Climate emergency declarations occupy a legally-ambiguous space between emergency measure and political rhetoric. Their uncertain status in public law provides a unique opportunity to illuminate latent assumptions about emergencies and how they are regulated in law. This article analyzes climate emergency declarations in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. It argues that these climate emergency declarations reflect back a set of paradoxes about how emergencies are governed in law—paradoxes about defining the emergency, its relationship to time and who gets to respond to the emergency and how. These paradoxes productively complicate long-held and over-simplified assumptions about emergencies contained in public law. They allow us to see the complex ways in which public law regulates emergencies—a necessity in a climate-disrupted world.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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