Global Environmental Governance to Achieve Net Zero

Global Environmental Governance - to achieve Net Zero

Principal Investigator
Dr Stephen Turner
The Development of a Global Legal and Economic Framework that can achieve Net Zero Degradation to the Environment

Global environmental governance in the 21st century represents a major challenge for the international community because existing international environmental law and governance does not adequately meet the challenge of achieving net zero degradation of the environment, including net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Research demonstrates that key reasons for this inadequacy are:

  • the international community relies heavily on a system of international environmental law which does not address the root causes of environmental degradation - only the symptoms
  • the root causes of environmental harm are found in the legal and economic frameworks which underpin the way that the international community undertakes business, trade, investment, banking and insurance
  • therefore, the challenge is to address the root causes of environmental degradation whilst developing and maintaining effective national and international legal and economic frameworks for business and trade

This research project meets this challenge to draft, design and develop appropriate legal and economic frameworks whilst also taking into account the broad range of relevant factors that can influence their successful implementation.

Draft Framework Treaty 

One of the foundational aspects of this research has been to design and draft a framework treaty that would have the effect of predisposing business and industry at national and international levels to achieve net zero degradation of the environment, including greenhouse gas emissions. 

The framework treaty provided is an updated version of an earlier draft that was included in the 2014 book – Turner - ‘A Global Environmental Right’.

Its formulation relies on ‘macro legal analysis’ which has been used to provide insights into the way that different legal and economic frameworks can operate in unison to predispose business and industry toward environmental degradation rather than environmental protection.  By identifying the elements of the international legal and economic frameworks that are responsible for these outcomes, the process enables their redesign and reformulation to ensure that business and industry are predisposed to net zero degradation of the environment in its operation. 

The formulation provided still leaves the need for further research. A deeper understanding is required of the legal, economic and social impacts were this type of treaty to be adopted. Additionally, research is required to develop a clearer understanding of the transitional arrangements that would be required to achieve equitable outcomes. 


The design and development of a global legal and economic framework that is predisposed to net zero environmental degradation requires an integrated approach to legal and economic reform. This inevitably means adaptation of the way that established but dated frameworks relating to business and trade operate on a daily basis. This means addressing corporate law, trade law, investment law, insurance law as well as their associated legal and economic frameworks at national and international levels.

As a result a key component of research and development in this field requires the active engagement of relevant stakeholders. These include international organisations, governments, business and industry, as well as civil society and academia.

The design and development of such a global legal and economic framework is such that it necessarily has implications for the furtherance of the development of the human rights responsibilities of business and industry. Similarly, it necessarily would play a major part in the realisation of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.


  • Stephen J. Turner, A Global Environmental Right, (2014) Earthscan for Routledge
  • Stephen J. Turner, ‘Business, Human Rights and the Environment – Using Macro Legal Analysis to Develop a Legal Framework that Coherently Addresses the Root Causes of Corporate Human Rights Violations and Environmental Degradation’ (2021) Sustainability 13, 12709, 1-31
  • Stephen J. Turner, ‘The Use of Macro Legal Analysis in the Understanding and Development of Global Environmental Governance’ (2017) 6(2) Transnational Env. L. 237-57
  • Stephen J. Turner, A Substantive Environmental Right (2009) Kluwer Law International
  • Stephen J. Turner & Claire Bright, From ‘Due Diligence’ to ‘Adequate Redress’. Towards Compulsory Human Rights and Environmental Insurance for Companies? International Community Law Review 4 (2022) 145–16
Greg Cadge - Autumn by the Lakes
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Dr Stephen Turner