Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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    Moving towards Ecological Regulation: The Role of Criminalisation
    Haines, F ; Parker, C ; Holley, C ; Shearing, C (Routledge - Taylor & Francis, 2017)
    Contemporary society faces multiple and interacting environmental challenges that require transformational change in the conduct of business. We take one of these challenges, the need to combat anthropogenic climate change, to interrogate what is required in transforming business regulation towards what we term ‘ecological regulation’. This transition requires us to grapple with how business regulation is currently framed and how change will effect such regulation. Regulation is largely premised both on the benefits of economic competition and for the control of particular harms to take place in an discrete case-by-case manner. Current moral and legal strategies used by activists in attempting to engender a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by business interact with current forms of regulation in distinct ways. The former involves activists staking a moral case for criminalisation of ecological damage through naming and shaming strategies. This may shift the moral boundaries of acceptable business behaviour. The latter is achieved by ‘bracing’ greenhouse gas reduction with existing business regulation that can bring some legal accountability to bear. We show how these strategies begin to reframe regulatory regimes as well as what ecological regulation might look like if full legal authority in enshrining a respect for ecological limits were added the contemporary framing of business regulation.
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    An Ecological Approach to Regulatory Studies?
    Parker, C ; Haines, F (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2018)
    Regulatory studies has been mainly occupied with addressing the social and economic crises of contemporary capitalism through instrumentally and responsively rational approaches. This article asks how regulatory scholarship can better respond to the ecological crisis now facing our world and our governance systems alongside social and economic crises. There are both possibilities and problems with instrumentally rational regulatory approaches that see human ecological impact as an externality or market failure and socio-legal approaches to regulatory studies that emphasize the need to attend to the social and political aspects of regulation using a responsively rational approach. A third big shift towards an ecologically rational approach to regulatory studies is needed to comprehend our embeddedness within ecological systems. An ecologically rational approach also calls for an understanding of how multiple, diverse ways of sustainable being can intersect with and challenge current regulatory regimes dominated by an instrumentally rational approach.
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    Introduction
    Park, C-M ; Uslaner, EM ; Park, CM ; Uslaner, EM (ROUTLEDGE, 2020-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: One important way to transform food systems for human and planetary health would be to reduce the production and consumption of animals for food. The over-production and over-consumption of meat and dairy products is resource-intensive, energy-dense and creates public health and food equity risks, including the creation of superbugs and antimicrobial resistance, contamination and pollution of land and waterways, and injustice to animals and humans who work in the sector. Yet the continuing and expanding use of animals is entrenched in food systems. One policy response frequently suggested by parties from all sectors (industry, government and civil society) is voluntary or mandatory labelling reforms to educate consumers about the healthiness and sustainability of food products, and thus reduce demand. This paper evaluates the pitfalls and potentials of labelling as an incremental regulatory governance stepping-stone to transformative food system change. METHODS: We use empirical data from a study of the regulatory politics of animal welfare and environmental claims on Australian products together with an ecological regulation conceptual approach to critically evaluate the potential of labelling as a regulatory mechanism. RESULTS: We show that labelling is generally ineffective as a pathway to transformative food system change for three reasons: it does not do enough to redistribute power away from dominant actors to those harmed by the food system; it is vulnerable to greenwashing and reductionism; and it leads to market segmentation rather than collective political action. CONCLUSION: We suggest the need for regulatory governance that is ecological by design. Labelling can only be effective when connected to a broader suite of measures to reduce overall production and consumption of meat. We conclude with some recommendations as to how public health advocates and policy entrepreneurs might strategically use and contest labelling and certification schemes to build support for transformative food system change and to avoid the regressive consequences of labelling.
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    The Promise of Ecological Regulation: The Case of Intensive Meat
    Parker, C ; Haines, F ; Boehm, L (American Bar Association, 2018)
    Eating less intensive meat is a solution to many problems: to human and ecological health and to the intense cruelty visited upon the millions of intensively bred animals across the globe. This Article outlines the contribution regulation makes to this problem and how it might be part of the solution. It begins by summarizing why intensive meat production generates so many problems that cut across regulatory domains. It then shows how current forms of regulation fail to grapple with the intersecting harms generated by intensive meat, highlighting the need for an ecological makeover for regulation itself. Further, regulation, as an instrumental form of law and policy implementation, neglects the interconnected challenges of the whole system. Regulatory scholarship, in the form of responsive regulation, provides ways to overcome at least some of the social aspects of regulatory failure. Yet the Article shows, drawing on two brief case examples highlighting an instrumental and responsive regulatory approach, that the ecological weakness of regulation is often overlooked. Finally, the Article teases out the characteristics of ecologically responsive regulation that can contribute to lowering meat consumption and then examines nascent regulatory tools and strategies that could be refashioned to encourage a shift towards an ecologically rich and socially resilient future.