Environmental law is moving in the direction of climate action

Wood said decades of failure to work shows that many existing environmental laws are “made for very old problems”. In Nixon’s day, Americans were concerned about issues such as fog, acid rain, and landfill degradation. Wood added that some of these problems remain, but they are “absolutely accepted by the oil and gas industry by attacking planetary systems.” Although twentieth-century laws, theoretically, can be re-amended for high levels of atmospheric carbon, such laws often hinder emissions reduction efforts instead.

Take the Clean Air Act: In 200 In, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA could include carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases in the definition of “polluting” law, although it is up to the agency to decide whether to do so. Just three years later, the same argument led the Supreme Court to rule that people could not sue a corporation for moving additional greenhouse gas emissions under federal general law because the EPA has statutory authority to control such emissions. The fact that the EPA Was not It’s not a matter of controlling the movement – it’s just that they are Can That was enough to close the case. While a similar case may still be successful under state rules, the Supreme Court’s decision is closed, at least temporarily, as a way forward.

Just as “environment” refers to the people, animals, plants and their surroundings here and now, environmental law refers to a fairly isolated effort to manage private natural resources – a water bill here, a forest law there. “Climate” refers to changes in regional, even global climate patterns and consequences over time, a climate law approach that is a discipline that facilitates bold, rapid and overall emissions reduction. Redistributing the resources of the fossil fuel industry to fund the removal of carbon, and more – we now need to address the risks of existing existence.

If a The basic year in American climate law, it hasn’t happened yet. Although the United States and others have debated national and international action since at least the early 1990s, it is a history of false beginnings and broken promises. Most recently, the United States joined, left, and rejoined the 2016 Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global warming 2 degrees Celsius lower than pre-industrial levels. But there is no real process for implementing the agreement.

Fortunately, the tide is turning. At least internationally, new laws are being passed – with teeth. In 2020, for example, Denmark passed a law that calls for climate neutrality for the nation by 2050, and, importantly, elected officials are obliged (at least theoretically) to resign if the country is not kept on track. And in May, a court in the Netherlands ordered Royal Dutch Shell to reduce its emissions by 5 percent, compared to 2019, by 2020, essentially the company had to shrink its oil and gas portfolio.

Hope, According to Journalist Amy Westerwelt, in coordination with Attribution Science (which helps link individual extreme weather events to larger climate trends), investigative journalism confirms that the fossil fuel industry was aware of the disadvantages of its business practices. And Has worked to hide them, and the new legal theory, the United States will soon have some success of its own.

Although Wood is a legal scholar, not a practicing lawyer, his ideas are at the center of this national effort. Stunned by Hurricane Katrina and later, Wood invented a new method called atmospheric trust litigation, arguing that courts should force government agencies to protect and maintain the Earth’s atmosphere for public use now and in the future.

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