Climate change law encompasses the policies and regulations implemented throughout the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conquer global warming, and prevent climate change.
Climate change policies can be international, national, or even local, so they may vary significantly from one location to the next.
Climate change regulations generally fall into two categories.
- Climate change mitigation – regulations that are implemented to cut emissions and minimize the impact of greenhouse gasses. In the United States, these include administrative regulations that govern the behaviors of businesses and consumers.
- Climate change adaptation – policies that support new opportunities to prevent global warming. These are mostly funding initiatives that promote greater energy efficiency and renewable technology.
Climate Change Law in the United States
The United States is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. However, the country continues to struggle to take measures that would help prevent global warming.
Under the 1963 Clean Air Act, the Clean Power Plan of 2015 set targets across the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions and cut emissions from power plants to 32% below 2005 levels by 2050. Options for slashing emissions included promoting the use of renewable energy in place of coal-fired power, investing in natural gas, renewable energy, nuclear power, and improving energy efficiency.
However, in March 2017, President Trump signed his “Energy Independence” executive order at EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) headquarters, targeting President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan was a key element in the country’s ability to meet commitments to reduce GHG emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Although Trump cannot officially quit the deal until November 2020, he has indicated that his plans to do so remain.
In 2019, President Trump formally began withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement. He claimed that pledges made by the U.S. under the agreement placed an unfair burden on American businesses, workers, and taxpayers. Withdrawal from the Paris agreement will make the United States the only national government in the entire world that rejected global efforts to stop global warming.
Trump’s order to undo Obama-era climate change regulations also reversed rules that were designed to reduce methane emissions that are caused by the production of oil and gas. It removed regulations that prohibited coal leasing on federal land and reduced the impact carbon emissions and climate change have on policy making and infrastructure decisions.
How the United States Makes Climate Change Laws
In the United States, bills can be introduced by members of the Senate or members of the House of Representatives. Once introduced, bills are discussed by a committee. If the committee approves, the bill is passed to the full chamber of the House or Senate.
After one chamber approves the bill, it is passed to the other chamber for consideration. The second chamber can either reject the bill, amend it, or pass it as is. Both the House and the Senate must agree on the final version of the bill before it is passed to the President. If the President signs the bill, it becomes law. A presidential rejection, however, can be overridden if two-thirds of both chambers vote to do so.
Despite the federal government’s regression on climate change, local and state governments, businesses, and communities remain dedicated to meeting the commitments of the Paris Agreement. Ankin Law Office LLC is the people’s legal voice in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Our Chicago workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys are active in their communities. Our lawyers remain focused on continuously helping the communities we live in to realize a brighter tomorrow.