Atmosphere and Outer Space

Ian H. Rowlands

in The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552153
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

 Atmosphere and Outer Space

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What is ‘atmosphere’ and what is ‘outer space’? The term ‘atmosphere’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘air’. Moreover, it is often assumed that ‘outer space’ is simply the area above and beyond ‘air space’ (another term often used). While understandings such as these are certainly reasonable for most discussions, the effective development of international environmental law may well demand more precise definitions. This article provides an overview of key atmospheric and outer space environmental challenges that have been – and continue to be – addressed by international environmental law. It examines transboundary air pollution, ozone layer depletion, global climate change, and outer space. For each of these issue areas, the article describes a particular environmental problem (or set of environmental problems). It also reviews key elements of the international legal response (including especially significant agreements), focusing on innovative approaches taken as part of this response. In addition, the article discusses transboundary transport of industrial pollutants as well as major industrial accidents.

Keywords: atmosphere; outer space; international environmental law; transboundary air pollution; ozone layer depletion; climate change; industrial pollutants; industrial accidents

Article.  9538 words. 

Subjects: Law ; International Law ; Environment and Energy Law

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