Environmental Law: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780198794189

Elizabeth Fisher
152 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Oct 2017
Very Short Introductions


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  • Discusses the nature and practice of environmental law, and explores the role of lawmakers, courts, and regulators
  • Analyses why environmental law is both a fundamental and controversial area of law, and how it operates within societies
  • Encompasses a range of different jurisdictions, considering examples from many different countries

Environmental law is the law concerned with environmental problems. It is a vast area of law that operates from the local to the global, involving a range of different legal and regulatory techniques. In theory, environmental protection is a no brainer. Few people would actively argue for pollution or environmental destruction. Ensuring a clean environment is ethically desirable, and also sensible from a purely self-interested perspective. Yet, in practice, environmental law is a messy and complex business fraught with conflict. Whilst environmental law is often characterized in overly simplistic terms, with a law being seen as be a magic wand that solves an environmental problem, the reality is that creating and maintaining a body of laws to address and avoid problems is not easy, and involves legislators, courts, regulators and communities. 

This Very Short Introduction provides an overview of the main features of environmental law, and discusses how environmental law deals with multiple interests, socio-political conflicts, and the limits of knowledge about the environment. Showing how interdependent societies across the world have developed robust and legitimate bodies of law to address environmental problems, Elizabeth Fisher discusses some of the major issues involved in environmental law's: nation statehood, power, the reframing role of law, the need to ensure real environmental improvements, and environmental justice. As Fisher explains, environmental law is, and will always be, necessary but inherently controversial.


1: Troubles
3: The substance of environmental law
5: Expanding legal imagination
6: The significance of nation states
7: Power and accountability in environmental law
8: Ensuring the effectiveness of environmental law
9: The many forms of environmental justice
10: Lessons
Further Reading

About the author: 

Professor Elizabeth Fisher is Professor of Environmental Law in the Faculty of Law and at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford. She has won awards for both her teaching and her scholarship, and is General Editor of the Journal of Environmental Law.

"To write shortly about complex subjects takes considerable time and even more knowledge and skill. Fisher has successfully used both to craft short, sharp and succinct stories that lucidly explain and enliven environmental law." - The Hon. Justice Brian Preston SC

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