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Climate Adaptation and Land Use Governance: The Vertical Axis

88 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2013 Last revised: 10 Dec 2014

Alice Kaswan

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Date Written: March 20, 2014


The existing and expected impacts of climate change are increasingly well-documented and pose profound challenges to existing governance norms. This article addresses one of those norms: the norm of local control over land use. The article first sketches the important role of land use in climate adaptation and the insufficiency of current initiatives. The article then assesses the federalism values that guide jurisdictional choices: pragmatic efficacy, democratic legitimacy, and the prevention of tyranny. Based on each of these values, it argues that continued reliance on local initiative is insufficient. Instead, a multilevel governance approach that supplements local control with federal resources and parameters is necessary to adequately prepare for climate change and meet the wide range of local, state, and federal interests at stake.

Keywords: climate change, global warming, land use, climate adaptation, federalism

Suggested Citation

Kaswan, Alice, Climate Adaptation and Land Use Governance: The Vertical Axis (March 20, 2014). Columbia Journal of Environmental Law Vol. 39, No. 2014, Forthcoming; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2014-31. Available at SSRN: or

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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