Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Business Challenges and Opportunities and the Role of Lawyers in Meeting Them

April 8, 2009 Published Work
The Legal Impact of Climate Change, Aspatore Books

In the summer of 2007, lawyers at my firm, Wiggin and Dana LLP, formed our Climate Change and Sustainable Development group. This chapter discusses the need our community of active and potential clients has for the services provided by this practice group. This chapter cannot discuss in detail the immense range of topics comprehended by the subject of climate change and sustainable development, but, as leader of our Climate Change and Sustainable Development group, I hope to be able to convey both the importance and the diversity of the subject matter and the important role for attorneys in meeting the challenges that lie ahead.
The overwhelming scientific record demonstrates that human activity since the beginning of the industrial age, and particularly within the last several years, has resulted in climate change all over the planet. The world is getting warmer, and, unless checked, global warming will result in, among other dire consequences, melting polar ice caps; rising seal levels that could flood low-lying coastal areas; changes to weather and climate patterns resulting in more frequent and intense hurricanes, tornadoes, and cyclones; drought in some portions of the world; and changing patterns of agriculture. We can find ample evidence of this phenomenon from various sources. For an excellent example, see the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "Summary for Policy Makers," November 2007, The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization and by the United Nations Environment Program. IPCC reports have supported efforts by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which underlie the Kyoto Protocol discussed below.