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Reconciling Justice and Efficiency: Integrating Environmental Justice into Domestic Cap-and-Trade Programs for Controlling Greenhouse Gases


Alice Kaswan


University of San Francisco - School of Law

2011

ETHICS AND GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, p. 232, Denis G. Arnold, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2011
Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2011-23

Abstract:     
In the last thirty years, two opposing trends have emerged in environmental policy: environmental justice and market-based mechanisms. They present fundamental tensions. The environmental justice movement’s distributional goals conflict with market programs’ focus on cost-effectively achieving aggregate goals, without regard to distribution. And the environmental justice movement’s participatory goals conflict with market programs’ focus on industry autonomy and privatized decisionmaking. The tension between environmental justice and markets is arising in the context of cap-and-trade programs for greenhouse gases (GHGs). While GHGs do not impose localized harms, GHG trading policies nonetheless raise distributional issues because GHG gas emissions are inevitably accompanied by co-pollutants that do.

After exploring the tensions between environmental justice and market goals, this book chapter articulates the importance of designing policies that attempt to achieve both justice and efficiency. Addressing the co-pollutant consequences of GHG trading policies could better serve overall social welfare than a narrow focus on GHG reductions alone. Incorporating arguments first articulated in Environmental Justice and Domestic Climate Change Policy, 38 ENVIRONMENTAL LAW REPORTER, NEWS & ANALYSIS 10287 (2008), http://ssrn.com/abstract=1077675, the chapter proposes several practical design mechanisms that could incorporate greater equity into cap-and-trade programs. Exploring the tension between equity and efficiency, the article addresses the potential economic and administrative efficiency consequences associated with each mechanism to achieve equity.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: climate change, environmental law, environmental justice, market-based mechanisms, global warming, cap-and-trade

JEL Classification: A13, D63, J71, K32, O13, Q38, Q48

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Date posted: August 1, 2009 ; Last revised: October 29, 2013

Suggested Citation

Kaswan, Alice, Reconciling Justice and Efficiency: Integrating Environmental Justice into Domestic Cap-and-Trade Programs for Controlling Greenhouse Gases (2011). ETHICS AND GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, p. 232, Denis G. Arnold, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2011; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2011-23. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1442165

Contact Information

Alice Kaswan (Contact Author)
University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
(415) 422-5053 (Phone)
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