Legal transplants and regimes governing access to environmental information in England and Wales, the United States and China
University College Cork
The right of access to environmental information plays a vital role in society. By guaranteeing the right of access to such information, states enable the public to become informed on environmental issues and to scrutinise state action and/or inaction. This acts to improve environmental protection efforts, enhance environmental decision-making procedures and promote environmental objectives including sustainable development. States guarantee this right by putting a legal regime in place governing how requests for access are to be processed by public authorities and how any disputes over the right of access are to be resolved. This thesis analyses the environmental information regimes operating in three diverse jurisdictions, namely England and Wales, the United States and China, by measuring their domestic measures against the international legal norms set down in the Aarhus Convention. It then highlights how the three jurisdictions conceptualise the right differently, and how this impacts on their respective efforts to guarantee the right. The thesis identifies potential reforms to the selected jurisdictions’ environmental information regimes sourced from the regimes operating in the other jurisdictions studied. The likelihood of these proposed reforms being adopted is then considered using legal transplant theory. The thesis then critiques the likelihood of the three selected environmental information regimes converging and whether such a move would be a positive development for the right of access to environmental information. The thesis explores the idea that, while the three jurisdictions’ information regimes exhibit positive elements, they could be improved by adopting certain legal procedures sourced from the other jurisdictions studied. The thesis then considers and adopts the position that, while such reforms would strengthen how the right is implemented, not all of the proposed reforms are likely to be successfully adopted due to significant administrative, cultural and social differences between the selected jurisdictions. In the final stage, the thesis critically analyses the future development of the right of access to environmental information, accounting for the impact of legal transplants and the normative influence of the Aarhus Convention. The thesis concludes that, while there are differences in how the three jurisdictions studied conceptualise the right, there are also elements which are shared due to the overarching influence of the Aarhus Convention. Consequently, proposed reforms which align with both the Aarhus Convention and a specific jurisdiction’s conceptualisation of the right are likely to be successfully adopted and shape how the right develops into the future.
Aarhus Convention , England and Wales , China , United States , Access to environmental information , Legal transplant theory , Law reform
Whittaker S. 2017. Legal transplants and regimes governing access to environmental information in England and Wales, the United States and China. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.