Foreign Impacts and Climate Change

52 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2015 Last revised: 25 Jun 2015

See all articles by Arden Rowell

Arden Rowell

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: January 16, 2015


The vast majority of climate change impacts will accrue on foreign soil, to people who have yet to be born. How should domestic policymakers think about these impacts, and what practices are already in place to account for the foreign impacts of domestic climate change policy? This Article argues that policymakers should distinguish policies addressing the location of foreign impacts from the determination of whose preferences matter to domestic analysis. It then dissects and presents current U.S. policy on the global impacts of the Social Cost of Carbon, and builds on prior work to show that regulatory approaches to the foreign impacts of climate change are startlingly inconsistent with how foreign impacts are managed for other regulatory risks. This inconsistency may be reasonable in light of distinctive characteristics of climate change, but even reasonable inconsistency poses distinctive institutional and legal challenges to agencies intent on incorporating foreign impacts into statutory and regulatory decisions that have traditionally been focused inwards towards the United States.

Keywords: climate change, social cost of carbon, valuation, global, foreign, regulatory impact analyses, risk regulation, risk analysis, risk management, cost-benefit analysis, Clean Air Act, Energy Policy and Conservation Act

JEL Classification: D61, K23, K32

Suggested Citation

Rowell, Arden, Foreign Impacts and Climate Change (January 16, 2015). Harvard Environmental Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Arden Rowell (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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