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PhD Studentship: Climate Mitigation Through the Decisions of Courts: A Critical Evaluation

University of East Anglia - Law

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: International Students
Funding amount: £15,609
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th November 2021
Closes: 19th January 2022
Reference: KENT_LAW22CDCC

Background: 

Climate litigation is an emerging phenomenon through which climate activists and NGOs are attempting to force ambitious climate action on nation states and businesses. The build-up for a significant court decision instructing states to undertake ambitious climate-mitigation action has been fuelled for years by decisions such as Massachusetts vs EPA (recognising CO2 as a ‘pollutant’) and Leghari vs Pakistan (instructing the state to implement its own climate policies). In 2019 the Dutch Supreme Court provided the seminal Urgenda vs the Netherlands decision, instructing the Netherlands to reduce its emission levels well beyond its official policies and international commitments. During the past year, other European courts have followed suit and other cases are still pending. Litigation is now an additional tool for achieving significant mitigation commitments by states and businesses. 

This development requires further research. This project aims to address the following questions: (1) How effective is this strategy? Did courts’ decisions indeed lead to more ambitious climate action? (2) What impact did this strategy have on the public and the political discourse? (3) What can states learn regarding their own legal obligations? 

Research methodology

This research project is interdisciplinary, spanning law, policy and political science. To undertake this project, the candidate will analyse empirical ‘real-time’ data of existing case-law. The candidate will further rely on qualitative interviews, as well as analysis of media coverage to examine the manner in which these cases are framed. The candidate will derive lessons regarding the impact of climate litigation on states’ commitment formulation on climate change mitigation.  

Training 

The candidate will benefit from the dedicated training offered within the UEA Leverhulme Ph.D. cohort, as well as training offered by a variety of UEA departments (notably in research methods) to further develop or acquire their interdisciplinary research skills. He/she will be a part of the Law School’s International Law Research Group, as well as the world-renowned Tyndall Centre, and will benefit from relevant research events. 

Person specification

Applicants require a master’s degree in a relevant subject (e.g. law, political science, development studies). The candidate will be expected to undertake inter-disciplinary research training and show willingness to work independently.

Primary Supervisor:  Dr Avidan Kent

Start date: 01/10/2022

For more information on this project, please visit http://www.uea.ac.uk

Successful candidates will be awarded a 4-year studentship covering tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£15,609 per year in 2021/22) and funds to support the research project and associated training. Additional funds are not available to assist with relocation or visa costs.

Funding Details:

We anticipate that up to two awards will be made to international students for October 2022 entry.

Part-time studentship awards are subject to approval by the Leverhulme Trust.

For more information about the ‘Critical Decade’ programme click here.

This project has been selected for the Critical Decade for Climate Change programme, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online interview, to be held late February/early March 2022.

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