Climate Change Emergency: Would It Be Legal? Would It Be Useful?

The Revelator article discusses what would be the effect of the next President declaring a climate change emergency. Environmental and constitutional law scholar Dan Farber explains what a climate change emergency declaration could achieve.

The possibility of declaring a national emergency to address climate change will probably remain under discussion for the next couple of years, particularly if the courts uphold President Trump’s wall “emergency.” As a legal scholar, I want to explain how a climate emergency declaration would work and what it could and couldn’t do. But first I want to emphasize three key points:

  1. Declaring a climate emergency should be off the table if the Supreme Court rules against Trump.
  2. An emergency declaration is not a magic wand that gives presidents a blank check. A declaration would allow some constructive steps to be taken, but within limits.
  3. The ultimate goal has to be congressional action, and an emergency declaration should only be considered as part of a larger legislative and administrative agenda.

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