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The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015 was rightly hailed as a diplomatic triumph. After years of preparation and two weeks of hard bargaining, 195 nations agreed on a framework for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and heading off the worst impacts of climate change. Two implications of the Paris agreement were less heralded:

  1. If nations (including the United States) fulfill the voluntary pledges they made, they will embark on a massive transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, including programs of unprecedented magnitude to build renewable energy facilities.
  2. Even if all nations do carry out their pledges, global temperatures will continue to increase for many decades, leading to still more extreme weather events such as prolonged droughts and severe flooding.

Families and small businesses throughout the United States will be affected by both of these, and it is important that their lawyers be aware of what is coming. Counsel involved in real estate, construction, and insurance transactions need to be particularly vigilant.

This article first discusses some of the implications for small law practices of the impending transition from fossil fuels, and then the implications of the changing climate itself.


Environmental Law | Law


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Sabin Center for Climate Change Law