Pathways to a Zero-Carbon Future

The Environmental Forum, July/August 2017

Widener Law Commonwealth Research Paper No. 17-04

14 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2017

See all articles by John C. Dernbach

John C. Dernbach

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School

Date Written: July/August 2017


This paper provides an overview of the challenge of achieving a zero carbon future, as well as the way in which sustainable development would frame the decision-making process for doing so. It then reviews major reports by the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project and the World Bank that describe overall approaches at the global and national levels for meeting the zero carbon objective. Finally, using the United States as an example, it describes ways to identify and create legal pathways to that objective for the U.S., building on the insights of these two reports. Creating possible legal pathways could help accelerate the transition the transition to a sustainable energy future for the U.S. and other countries. After the November 2016 U.S. presidential election, knowledge of the many regulatory and nonregulatory legal pathways may also reduce federal resistance to climate action.

Keywords: climate change, decarbonization, zero carbon, global warming, Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, Paris Agreement

JEL Classification: K19, K32

Suggested Citation

Dernbach, John C., Pathways to a Zero-Carbon Future (July/August 2017). The Environmental Forum, July/August 2017; Widener Law Commonwealth Research Paper No. 17-04. Available at SSRN:

John C. Dernbach (Contact Author)

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School ( email )

3800 Vartan Way
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9380
United States

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