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Environmental Justice and Domestic Climate Change Policy

Alice Kaswan

University of San Francisco - School of Law

January 18, 2008

Environmental Law Reporter, May 2008

This article argues that, except in California, environmental justice considerations have not received sufficient attention in climate change policy debates. It explores the environmental justice implications of emerging domestic climate change policies and provides policymakers with specific suggestions on how to integrate environmental justice concerns. The article begins by introducing the environmental justice movement and its central principles, and then explores the limited integration of environmental justice concerns in existing climate change policies.

The article then clarifies existing debates about the environmental implications of greenhouse gas cap and trade programs by providing a detailed assessment of their distributional benefits and risks. The article also includes specific mechanisms by which environmental justice could be integrated into cap and trade programs, and discusses the administrative and economic efficiency ramifications of such integration.

Having addressed the environmental implications of cap and trade programs, the article then turns, more broadly, to the economic implications, both negative and positive, of a variety of existing or future climate change policies, including, but not limited to, cap and trade programs. This Part notes that climate change policies could result in significant economic and technological transformations that provide unique development opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

The article ends by exploring the risks and opportunities presented by alternative technologies, with a particular focus on the risks presented by ethanol production and use.

Given the likelihood that climate change policies will result in pervasive economic and environmental ramifications for the nation, it is incumbent upon decisionmakers to integrate distributional considerations into emerging policies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

Keywords: environmental justice, climate change, environmental law, cap and trade programs, economic development, sustainable development, biofuels

JEL Classification: A13, D23, D63, H23,J78, K32, O13, Q42, Q48, O31

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Date posted: December 24, 2007 ; Last revised: June 24, 2014

Suggested Citation

Kaswan, Alice, Environmental Justice and Domestic Climate Change Policy (January 18, 2008). Environmental Law Reporter, May 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1077675

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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