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The Problem That Is Global Warming: Introduction


Address correspondence to Fiona Haines, School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne VIC 3010. Telephone: +61 3 8344 6563; E-mail:


Global warming poses significant challenges to society at every level, evading easy definitions that would make the usual instrumental approaches to policymaking and regulation a relatively straightforward task. The embeddedness of the carbon economy in contemporary methods of industrialization and development means that climate protection is at once a problem of environment, the global economy, and human rights. It requires us to understand the strengths and limitations of a regulatory approach, to tease apart the intricacies of international law and governance to find ways to turn economic, legal, and cultural norms toward creating climate justice. Sector specific approaches to dealing with human rights and refugees, as well as international relations based on interstate relations, also have limitations. These include insufficient capacity to appreciate the differentiated responsibility of various actors in the creation of this ecological crisis as well as creating obstacles in finding appropriate ways to motivate those with the most ability to reduce our impact on the climate. Mutual reinforcement and “virtuous” arbitrage across fragmented regulatory regimes might create new synergies with potentially positive transformative effects for climate protection. To achieve this, the development and maintenance of legitimacy is central. The articles in this edition tackle these issues and, taken as a whole, provide a springboard for future scholarship.