Law’s Colares finds nations increasingly support restricting greenhouse gas emissions

Case WesternJuscelino Colares Reserve University School of Law Professor Juscelino F. Colares’ recent research concludes global economic forces are pushing the United States and other countries toward a binding international environmental treaty.

In a recent Journal of World Trade article, Colares investigated the prospects of an international pact to restrict emissions from greenhouse gases (GHG). He said the United States is destined to become part of such a treaty, while also making economically driven changes to its own environmental law.

“This article’s original contribution is in presenting, arguably, the first explanation of how certain domestic political-economic forces will converge to support U.S. adoption of a carbon-restricting regime and participation in a binding global treaty,” Colares said.

In the article, Colares found that support for reforms is likely to increase in response to foreign carbon-restricting measures that may “tip the balance in favor of reform.”

Scientists commonly believe that greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons, harm the Earth’s climate. As a result, nations are becoming more open to restricting such emissions.

The European Union already curbs commercial aviation emissions beyond national borders—an example of possible GHG policies nations choose to adopt to improve the global environment, Colares explained.

Colares pointed out that a shift in U.S. climate policy toward emission pricing is due to two major developments: the implementation of foreign carbon restricting and U.S. producers’ response to these reforms. His analysis demonstrated that U.S. exporters and producers participating in global supply chains will increasingly select carbon-efficient technologies to minimize costs and adjust to a changing regulatory environment.

Carbon restricting generally describes rules that limit GHG, leading to an economy-wide price for GHG emissions.

His research noted a collaborative shift by industry and pro-environment groups in favor of emission-restricting reforms. To gauge opposition to U.S. participation in a future international climate agreement, Colares included an analysis of lobbying in Congress concerning emission-restricting legislation.

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