Climate Change Law: Limitations of the Legal System to Respond to the Threats


From clean air regulations that affect cars and the transportation industry to government subsidies/incentives for renewable energy (solar & wind) to protecting the first amendment rights of scientists and journalists who maintain that climate change really exists and is caused by human activity, the American legal system is an integral part of the response to climate change and the public policy of sustainability and resilience. The importance of legal rules to deal with the threats posed by Climate Change cannot be overstated. At the federal, state and local levels of government regulations reducing air pollution and controlling energy that increases greenhouse gases, taxes on emissions, required insurance on flooding hazards and the like have been enacted to deal with Climate Change by reducing the causes and by adapting to reduce the physical risks to promote resilience. Yet, the U.S. legal systems has limitations that affect the impact. Legislation requires a political situation supporting regulation of the causes of climate change, financial support for alternative fuels and the will to develop and get laws passed that will be effective and acceptable to political bodies. Litigation is a slow process and the law created by the courts may be narrow and not comprehensive. In a capitalist environment the response of business may be critical both because of the severe limits of the legal system and because government alone cannot work to meet the basic goals of dealing with the threats of climate change.

Author Information
Celeste Hammond, John Marshall Law School, United States

Paper Information
Conference: IICSEEHawaii2019
Stream: Climate change

This paper is part of the IICSEEHawaii2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon