The Dozen Types of Legal Tools in the Deep Decarbonization Toolbox

41 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2018 Last revised: 13 Dec 2018

See all articles by John C. Dernbach

John C. Dernbach

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School

Date Written: September 10, 2018


This article provides a description and analysis of the dozen types of legal tools that are available to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. The “80 by 50” target and similarly aggressive carbon abatement goals are often referred to as “deep decarbonization,” a term that signals the need for systemic changes to the energy economy. It is the first compilation of types of legal tools available for deep decarbonization.
The article is important for at least two reasons. First, it explains that there are many more types of legal choices available than we may have thought, and that the range of legal tools provides great opportunity for building consensus. One particularly important category, for example, is reduction or removal of legal barriers. Second, it makes clear that a great many types of lawyers are important in this effort, including not only energy and environmental lawyers, but also finance, corporate, procurement, contracting, real estate, and other types of lawyers.

Keywords: Climate Change, Decarbonization, Zero Carbon, Global Warming, Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, environmental law, energy law, regulation, insurance, carbon tax, cap and trade, lawyer

JEL Classification: K19, K32, K00, K10, K20, K29, K32, Q00, Q01, Q19, Q20, Q25, Q28, Q30, Q40, Q48

Suggested Citation

Dernbach, John C., The Dozen Types of Legal Tools in the Deep Decarbonization Toolbox (September 10, 2018). 39 Energy Law Journal 101, Widener Law Commonwealth Research Paper No. 18-12, 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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