Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

  • 29 April 2021

Two MSc students awarded the Oxford University Press (OUP) Prize for International Environmental Law

Two MSc students have been awarded the Oxford University Press (OUP) Prize for International Environmental Law. This prize, generously sponsored by OUP, is awarded to the Environmental Change and Management MSc student who receives the top mark in the International Environmental Law elective, taught by Dr Catherine MacKenzie.

Clarissa Lehne's essay was titled: Assessing the Success of International Environmental Law - A Compliance Perspective.

Clarissa Lehne

Clarissa said, "The success of any international legal instrument or body of law depends on the extent to which states bound by it comply with its rules and can effectively enforce them against potential rule-breakers. International environmental law ("IEL") has an arguably deserved reputation for lacking teeth. Nevertheless, the past few decades have seen increased development of compliance mechanisms in multilateral environmental agreements ("MEAs"), and increased willingness by states and other actors to take advantage of these mechanisms.

"My paper provided an overview of these developments. I found that while compliance systems employ a broad range of strategies, the most constructive approaches include some form of technical and financial support to facilitate compliance, sanctions to deter non-compliance or free-riding, and the involvement of non-state actors in monitoring and implementation efforts. I concluded by assessing the 2015 Paris Agreement's compliance mechanism against this backdrop, determining that the purely facilitative character of the Agreement's Article 15 Committee and the lack of non-state actor involvement in its processes may make it difficult to hold non-compliant parties accountable in the long run."

Lushanya Dayathilake's essay was titled: The Impact of International Trade Law on the Management of Climate Change.

Lushanya Dayathilake

Lushanya said, "There is a general perception in the scholarship that there exists a clash between the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and climate change mitigation goals. More specifically, since the Canada -Renewable Energy (2013) dispute at the WTO it has become almost conventional wisdom that there exists a clash between the WTO rules and policies that aim to incentivize renewable energy through schemes such as Feed-In Tariff (FIT) schemes, state procurement, and local content requirements. My paper analysed the validity of this general perception using the Canada-Renewable Energy (2013) lawsuit as the representative case study.

"The analysis brought an important point to the fore: the component of the FIT scheme that is generally found to be inconsistent with the WTO rules is the local content requirement which is additionally incorporated into the FIT scheme as a prerequisite that renewable energy generators should fulfill in order to gain access to the state energy procurement. Overall, my paper showed that the apparent clash between renewable energy subsidies and the WTO rules has been both overstated and misinterpreted to a considerable extent."

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