Overview: The exigencies that drive potential causes of action for climate change

William C.G. Burns, Hari M. Osofsky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


The implications of the crystallizing scientific understanding is that the planet is on the verge of dramatic climate change. It is still possible to avoid the most deleterious effects, but only if prompt actions are taken to stabilize global temperature close to its present value. INTRODUCTION Over the course of the last few years, climate change litigation has been transformed from a creative lawyering strategy to a major force in transnational regulatory governance of greenhouse gas emissions. This book traces that journey and looks ahead to the future by considering a range of lawsuits and petitions filed in state, national, and international tribunals, as well as some potential causes of action. These actions cover an immense legal terrain but have in common their concern with more effective regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. This introductory chapter frames the contributions in this book. It first provides an overview of climate change science, including both the current and the projected global impacts of climate change; second, it assesses current institutional responses to climate change and why they have been and likely will continue to be wholly inadequate to confront the looming threat of climate change in this century and beyond; third, it examines current efforts to open a new front to address climate change and climate change litigation; and finally, it provides a synopsis of the chapters that follow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdjudicating Climate Change
Subtitle of host publicationState, National, and International Approaches
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780511596766
ISBN (Print)9780521879705
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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