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Climate Change Reflection in Law System


Climate change is one of the most urgent issues in today’s world, therefore, governments, citizens, international organizations aim to preserve the current state of the problem with a slender hope of improvement in the future. The US government is not an exception as most presidents made an impact on the climate change policy of the United States and brought it to the current state. National security services in the person of Pentagon attracted attention to the issue in 2003 as climate change problems should exceed the limits of scientific debates on account of probable damaging causes of global warming. The urgency of this problem cannot be estimated because of many simultaneous processes happening in the world, however, it is clear that without change the situation will only get worse.

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Climate policy from Clinton to Trump

Clinton’s and Bush’s Climate Change Policy

Clinton was one of the first presidents who attracted attention to this global problem. He planned to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and bring the ecological problems to the state where they were some decades ago. Clinton’s policy involved taxes embracing electric power produced by hydro- and nuclear energetics excluding renewable energy sources like wind or sunlight. The next president’s policy was not that popular as Clinton’s. Bush was judged for disinformation in order to delude the American society towards the climate change issue and non-admission of restrictions on the polluters. The White House practiced pressure on the scientists to stop discussions about ecological problems and forced them to adjust their research results to Bush’s policy.

Obama’s Climate Change Policy

Barack Obama did not follow his predecessor’s footsteps, therefore his election campaign in 2008 made public his plan of investment into renewable sources. The 46th US President planned to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act to restrict the energy production but did not manage to it due to some discords with the Senate. Was issued an inquiry on collecting data about all methane emissions that required to send the data on the mentioned point for analysis in order to consider the shortening of those emissions. Therefore, New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) are pollution control standards issued on the basis of the latest requirements on methane emissions by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Governmental investments into transport were founded upon the Fixing Americas Surface Transportation Act passed by Obama’s administration. However, US expenditure for military forces is 28 times bigger than for climate security.

Trump’s Climate Change Policy

Trump’s administration did not consider climate change as a real problem, therefore, his climate policy did not provide huge changes on that issue. Trump abolished some acts of Obama’s administration substantiating it with the shortage of workplaces caused by restrictions toward the largest factories in the United States. In opposite to Barack Obama’s policy Donald Trump signed the order to increase the usage of coal in production. He suggestion to decrease EPA’s budget would result into the smallest EPA’s budget for 40 years, but the Congress did not agree with it. Regardless of the fact that every president has different attitudes toward the climate change issue all of them made their contribution to the problem to bring it to the current state. Despite all the acts passed and actions undertaken the global warming problem remains urgent nowadays.

Trends in Climate Change Legislation

Climate change is one of the most significant problems of the 21st century as the volumes of production and emissions get bigger, the number of natural disasters increases, and the fertility of soil decreases. According to Averechenkova (2017), in the 20 years since the Kyoto Protocol was arranged, the number of climate change laws increased by over a factor of 20 as in 2017 there were 1200 in 164 countries. Therefore, the United States government has issued a huge amount of laws and acts since 1950, not only governmental but related to foreign countries as well. As the climate change problem gets more and more serious the number of passed acts and laws increases in the US along with other countries as well.

Climate Change Acts and Laws

One of the most known acts is the Clean Air Act (CAA). It is a federal law that prescribes the EPA to establish national ambient air quality standards on the basis of the latest science (Kim, 2016). According to Kim (2016), the Act was issued with the 1963 legislation and was expanded with 1970, 1977, and 1990 amendments. The CAA includes various programs like the Acid Rain Program (ARP), the protection of the ozone layer, and the Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAASQ) that embrace different criteria and prescriptions. It is important because of the growing amount of emissions, pollution, therefore the Act is often edited in accordance with modern examinations on climate change.

The US government is sometimes criticized for financially supporting foreign countries in their fight with ecological problems instead of improving the United States’ system. As an example, the Electrify Africa Act can be provided. This law represents the goals and initiatives of the US government in providing access to power for people in sub-Saharan Africa. The act includes a majority of power generation sources such as renewable sources of power, natural gas, oil, and coal (“Electrify Africa Act,” 2016). This act directs some US government agencies as well, therefore, the president of the United States is allowed to establish a group that will coordinate those agencies. Electrify Africa Act is still in progress but it helps many Africans get access to energy and better their living conditions.

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Sometimes governmental decisions are counted by some scientists as not human-oriented enough. Fox (2019) claims that policy-making for climate change is appropriately focused on reducing greenhouse gas (GSG) emissions generated by energy, transport, industry, often leaving health somewhat on the margins of climate action planning. This claim can be considered as the viewpoint of the poorest citizens that lose their jobs because of the curtailment of the manufacture. However, the government usually decides what is better for the country, along with the citizens.

Biden’s Policy

Nobody knows what to expect from the current president of the United States Joe Biden. According to Edler (2021), a wide range of regulations, including power plant emission standards, automobile emissions and efficiency standards, air pollution standards, and energy efficiency standards, can be expected. But most climate policies requiring changes in the law are unlikely to be adopted as they need to collect a supermajority of votes in the Senate which is not likely to happen. However, the Biden administration may try to preserve the current state of the climate change issue and even put effort into the legislative development of the situation.

Climate change is considered one of the most urgent issues of this century, therefore, the US government develops various programs, acts, and laws to solve it. Starting from 1950 almost every resident provided a change in the state of this problem, however, the climate changes fast and it is difficult to adjust to the developing situation. Various laws are passed to at least maintain the existing level or help the ecology and the planet.


Averechenkova, A., Fankhauser, S., & Nachmany, M. (2017). Trends in climate change legislation. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

Edler, M. (2021). Optimistic prospects for US climate policy in the Biden Administration. Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, 1-26.

Electrify Africa Act. (n.d.). Climate Change Laws of the World. Web.

Fox, M., Zuidema, C., Bauman, B., Burke, B., & Sheehan, M. (2019). Integrating public health into climate change policy and planning: state of practice update. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(18), 3232. Web.

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Kim, S., Urpelainen, J., & Yang, J. (2016). Electric utilities and American climate policy: lobbying by expected winners and losers. Journal of Public Policy, 36(2), 251-275. Web.

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