Columbia Journal of Environmental Law


Fossil Fuel Abolition: Legal and Social Issues

28th June 2016 By: Karl S. Coplan

The scientific community agrees that release of over 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere through 2050 would cause global warming in excess of the maximum tolerable level. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ("IPCC") is even more pessimistic with regard to the maximum tolerable level.  We have already burned through 570 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent ("CO2e")-out of one teraton available-leaving only 430 gigatons of burnable carbon remaining. Ever.

Building an Effective Climate Regime While Avoiding Carbon and Energy Stalemate

By: Michael Wara

The world needs a new approach to achieving international progress on climate change.  Despite prodigious diplomatic efforts over two decades aimed at limiting emissions of climate change pollutants, relatively little in the way of effective global governance has been achieved.  This lack of progress has led some, including the U.S. government, to seek climate deals outside of the climate negotiations, leading to fragmentation of the Climate Regime.  I argue that this dilemma is a symptom of a larger problem—the structure of climate negotiations.  The negotiations currently place a narrow legal, economic, and political focus on the hardest part of the climate change problem—energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.   New science justifies a shift away from legal and policy frameworks that focus on energy and carbon dioxide emissions towards more flexible frameworks that aim to produce meaningful reductions in other, shorter-lived global warming pollutants.  

Current ISSUE

Vol. 41  No. 2
The Columbia Journal of Environmental Law was founded in 1972 with a grant from the Ford Foundation. The Journal is one of the oldest environmental law journals in the nation and is widely regarded as one of the preeminent environmental journals in the country. Our subscribers include law libraries, law firms, and federal, local, and state courts, as well as a significant international readership.


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