Environmental Law in a Climate Change Age
Widener University - Delaware Law School
Natural Resources and Environment , Vol. 22, Summer 2007
Assume for the moment that global warming is an urgent problem. Assume also that there is deep and broad public support in the United States in favor of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Assume also that in the United States electricity sector, which is a major emitter of GHGs, a combination of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy investments are the fastest and least expensive means to make serious reductions in GHG emissions. In such a world, will our existing environmental laws help or obstruct efforts to construct the new renewable energy facilities needed to address the urgent climate change problem? Will our environmental laws promote or squelch renewable energy and energy efficiency technological innovation? There is a danger that the values embedded in our environmental laws -- protection of human health and the environment -- will impair our efforts to respond to the world's greatest environmental challenge, thereby firmly entrenching current coal fired electricity generators (the most carbon intense source of electricity) as the business as usual of tomorrow. We must rethink our environmental laws so that we avoid the tragic irony of environmental laws trapping us in an oven.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 3
Keywords: climate change, environmental law, greenhouse gas emissions
JEL Classification: K32
Date posted: November 16, 2012