Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Climate Change Mitigation Law

Research Handbook on Climate Change Mitigation Law

Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series

Edited by Geert Van Calster, Wim Vandenberghe and Leonie Reins

Governments around the world have been trying to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for decades. This detailed Handbook considers the spectrum of legal and market-based instruments as well as strategies and policies adopted around the world and suggests more effective, comprehensive and responsive ways of managing climate change mitigation.

Chapter 22: Carbon trading in the United States

Laurie Ristino and Katherine Hannon Michel

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, law - academic, energy law, environmental law


Despite several attempts, the United States Congress has been unable to pass cap and trade legislation. Congress’ failure to regulate greenhouse gas emissions has provoked a variety of responses. For example, states have implemented regional carbon trading programs with a range of designs and varying levels of success. In addition, states and environmental organizations successfully sued to compel the US Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, a process that is continuing to unfold. Whether the resulting regulations will either pre-empt or, alternately, promote state and regional carbon markets remains to be seen. Meanwhile, private organizations and individuals have increasingly embraced voluntary carbon offsets, providing an example of a growing alternative to compliance markets. This chapter summarizes the ongoing experiments with carbon trading that continue to evolve in the face of weak federal leadership on climate change.

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