Just Solutions to Climate Change: A Climate Justice Proposal for a Domestic Clean Development Mechanism
University of Hawaii - William S. Richardson School of Law
Buffalo Law Review, November 2007
U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-26
The United States is awakening to the urgency of the climate crisis; and Congress is poised to respond with a cap-and-trade approach meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through market mechanisms. A pure cap-and-trade approach, however, raises significant and underappreciated environmental justice concerns. At best, it is indifferent to the needs of poor and of-color communities. At worst, cap-and-trade may well exacerbate the disproportionate burden of climate change that these communities stand to suffer. This Article proposes a solution to this shortcoming, arguing that any cap-and-trade system include a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), modeled on the Kyoto Protocol's package of flexibility mechanisms. The domestic CDM would encourage investment in green and renewable-energy projects in poor and of-color communities, while generating credits to be used in a domestic carbon trading regime. Including this kind of mechanism in the emerging domestic cap-and-trade system would both meet the economic needs of the poor and facilitate successful adaptation to climate change. Further, because it is in accord with the market mechanism that is likely to prevail, a domestic CDM is the most politically viable option for ensuring solutions consistent with the traditional environmental justice framework and emerging climate justice principles. Although more aggressive measures, both to mitigate climate change and address the disproportionate impacts, would be ideal, such measures are untenable in our current legal and political atmosphere. The mechanism this Article proposes provides the clearest, indeed perhaps the only, path for the United States' current climate policy to incorporate climate justice norms at all.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 55
Keywords: climate change, environmental justice, cap-and-trade, clean development mechanism, climate justice
JEL Classification: I31, K32
Date posted: October 12, 2007
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