Managing Climate Change Through Biological Sequestration: Open Space Law Redux

58 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2011 Last revised: 28 Mar 2015

See all articles by John R. Nolon

John R. Nolon

Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University

Date Written: 2012


Climate change management involves strategies that mitigate its causes and adapt human communities to its consequences. This article describes a legal strategy that does both: a national biological sequestration policy. This policy will increase the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that biological sequestration currently removes from the atmosphere and will enable human settlements to adapt to the harsh effects of a changing climate, while realizing a number of other objectives that open space preservation achieves. The article sketches the influences of international and national climate change law, which largely ignore the benefits of biological sequestration on privately owned land in developed countries. It then turns to an analysis of climate change and its consequences before exploring how mitigation and adaptation can be accomplished by preserving and enhancing the natural landscape in both rural and urban areas. Open Space Law presents policy makers with readily available tools to protect the sequestering environment: the natural and man-made landscapes that capture and store carbon organically and provide ecosystem resiliency. This body of law has emerged spontaneously over the past few decades, responding to countless local perturbations, largely unaided by cogent federal strategies. The local and state initiatives that have evolved to preserve and enhance open space provide the basis for a broader sequestration policy, one that builds on available legal technology and existing norms to respond to the looming global perturbation of climate change.

Suggested Citation

Nolon, John R., Managing Climate Change Through Biological Sequestration: Open Space Law Redux (2012). Stanford Environmental Law Journal, vol. 31, 2012, Available at SSRN: or

John R. Nolon (Contact Author)

Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

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