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Climate Change and the Judge as Water Trustee

March 2018

Citation: ELR 10235

Author: Michael D. Wilson

Humanity’s quest to achieve orderly mitigation of and adaptation to climate change is dependent upon the just application of the environmental rule of law—the legal framework that protects and sustains the environment on which life depends. A 3+ degree world of collapsing ecosystems will arrive within the century, unless the environmental rule of law is enforced. This Comment posits that the present framework positions earth’s judges as guardians of the public trust—sworn to protect earth’s water resources from the severe damage that will be caused by heating the earth system two to three degrees above preindustrial levels. Moreover, environmental courts and tribunals are proving to be critical to the world judiciary’s just application of the environmental rule of law to issues of climate change.

Michael D. Wilson is an Associate Justice in the Supreme Court of Hawaii.

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