University of San Diego

San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law


The critical lesson for climate change legislation is that the pending lawmaking moment must include the enactment of provisions specifically designed to maintain the legislation’s ability to achieve its long-term objectives over the longer term. For climate change legislation to be successful, the new legal framework must simultaneously be flexible in certain respects and steadfast in others. Flexibility is necessary to allow for the modification of legal requirements over time in light of new information. Steadfastness or “stickiness” is important to maintain the stability of a law’s requirements over time. The need for both is particularly great for climate change legislation. Flexibility is absolutely essential for climate change legislation in light of the enormity of the undertaking, both in its temporal and spatial reach, and the surrounding uncertainty concerning the wisdom of specific regulatory approaches. Yet the basic legal framework and legal mandate must also be steadfast enough to be maintained over the long term notwithstanding what will be an unrelenting barrage of extremely powerful short-term economic interests that will inevitably seek the mandate’s relaxation.