Heating up: climate change law and the evolving responsibilities of local government
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its Fourth Report, has now stated, with very high confidence (at least 90% certainty), that global warming is occurring, and it is highly confident (about 80% or more certain) that the reasons for global warming include human-generated, greenhouse gas emissions. Given this unequivocal recognition of global warming, the question that decision-makers must now ask themselves, is "what should we be doing about it?" Obviously there is a political debate to be had on this question but there is also an emerging body of climate change law that decision-makers, at all levels of government, need to be aware of when they debate and determine their response to this question. This article discusses the current state of climate change law as it applies to decision-makers in local government. This discussion relates both to the recognition and mitigation (or reduction) of greenhouse gas emissions and to the need for adaptation to climate change impacts. In all these respects, the emergent law seems to require that local governments act sooner rather than later to develop a reasonable response to climate change considerations. Consequently, this article considers what the main elements of a reasonable response to climate change considerations might be. The aim here is to assist local governments in developing timely, appropriate and legally robust measures to deal with climate change considerations.
Local Government Law Journal
Copyright 2008 Thomson Legal & Regulatory Limited. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Environmental and Natural Resources Law