Climate Change and Existing Law: A Survey of Legal Issues Past, Present, and Future [March 10, 2014] [open pdf - 509KB]
"This report surveys 'existing' law for legal issues that have arisen, or may arise in the future, on account of climate change and government responses thereto. The reader interested in proposals for new laws to deal with climate change is referred to other works. Of course, while this report covers many of the major legal issues that have emerged or may do so, the endless ramifications of climate change preclude any claim to exhaustiveness. The report takes as its point of departure the current scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and, to the degree it continues, will cause sea level rise and extreme weather events. Inclusion of some legal issues was based further on the predominant scientific view that human activities are contributing to climate change. Discussion of several topics in this report may have to be substantially modified or deleted if Congress enacts comprehensive climate change legislation, though prospects for Congress doing so now seem small. Congressional legislation might alter or displace the role of certain existing statutes, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act being prime candidates, for addressing climate change, or end the already limited availability of common law claims for that purpose."
CRS Report for Congress, R42613