Fossil fuel mineral wealth and climate change law: expectations of coal mine development in a time of decarbonisation
Barton, B. (2021). Fossil fuel mineral wealth and climate change law: expectations of coal mine development in a time of decarbonisation. Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law. https://doi.org/10.1080/02646811.2020.1866275
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14097
International climate change law embodied in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement entails commitments to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, mainly from the use of fossil fuels. The development of fossil fuel mineral resources, especially coal, is becoming less attractive. Although it can be argued that countries, especially developing countries, should have a right to develop their coal resources, there is no general exception to the international agreements to that effect. The agreements address emissions and do not directly prevent fossil fuel extraction at the present. Emission reduction measures are not the only factors causing uncertainty in international coal markets. No tenable argument can be made for exceptions to the climate change agreements on the basis of the right to development, sustainable development or permanent sovereignty over natural resources; and pressure to reduce the use of fossil fuels, at the corporate level or in international affairs, is legitimate and to be expected. A low-carbon future means changes for mining, and coal mining in particular does not have a legal claim to business as usual operation immune from international efforts to reduce harm to the climate.
International Bar Association Section on Energy & Natural Resources Law
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law. © 2021 International Bar Association.
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