Climate change poses fundamental and varied challenges to all communities across the globe.1 The adaptation and mitigation strategies proposed by governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are likely to require radical and fundamental shifts in socio-political structures, technological and economic systems, organisational forms, and modes of regulation.2 The sheer volume of law and policy emanating from the international level makes it uncertain which type of regulatory or policy framework is likely to have a positive impact. As a result, climate change is not just an environmental problem requiring technical and regulatory solutions; it is a cultural arena in which a variety of stakeholders – state agencies, fi rms, industry associations, NGOs and local communities – engage in contestation as well as collaboration over the form and substance of evolving regimes of governance.3 The success or failure of proposed measures will depend on their acceptability within the local constituencies within which they are sought to be applied. Therefore, there is an urgent need to better comprehend and theorise the role of cultural legitimacy in the choice and effectiveness of international legal and policy interventions aimed at tackling the impact of climate change. In this regard, it is crucial to recognise that legitimacy critiques of international climate change regulation have the capacity to positively infl uence policy trends and legal choices.