State Dynamism, Federal Constraints: Possible Constitutional Hurdles to Cross-Border Cap-and-Trade

Vol. 27 No. 1

Ms. Welton is the deputy director and Earth Institute Climate Law Fellow at Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law in New York City.

The latest round of international climate negotiations took place in December 2011 in Durban, South Africa. Although delegates did not walk away empty-handed, there is no hope of a new binding international agreement to limit emissions before 2015. Moreover, emissions reductions will not be required until 2020 at the earliest. This “agreement to agree” seems utterly inadequate when viewed in the stark light of the latest climate science. In 2010, negotiators in Cancún, Mexico, agreed that countries should limit overall global warming to two degrees Celsius, but there is virtually no chance this goal can be achieved without major action before 2020. And leading climate scientists now suggest that letting the earth warm even two degrees Celsius might have catastrophic consequences. See Douglas Fischer, New Perils Seen to Even Modest Warming, The Daily Climate, Dec. 6, 2011 (quoting James Hansen).

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