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Professor Howard Latin Urges Adoption of “Clean” Technologies Over Emissions-Reduction Plans in New Book on Climate Change Policy

May 17, 2012 – 

Climate change has been the subject of much discussion, writing and negotiation over the past two decades, yet progress in overcoming climate change dangers has been negligible and the most severe climate problems continue to grow worse. 

In his new book Climate Change Policy Failures: Why Conventional Mitigation Procedures Cannot Succeed (World Scientific Publishing, May 2012), Howard A. Latin, Professor of Law and Justice John J. Francis Scholar at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, attributes the failure to reduce climate-related risks in any significant way to the misguided support of most climate policymakers, expert advisers, and large environmental groups for ineffectual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions-reductions programs. Latin urges instead that “clean” replacement technologies should be adopted as the primary strategy for meeting GHG mitigation goals.

Latin Book

Virtually all conventional mitigation programs share the same fundamental policy mistakes, Latin writes, and have “no chance of achieving genuine climate change progress.” Climate Change Policy Failures describes more than a dozen emissions-reduction programs or proposals included in recent U.S. legal initiatives and international law agreements. Their common faults include a graduated multi-decade emissions-reduction strategy that postpones major cuts until it is too late to prevent steadily worsening climate conditions, unrealistic expectations for using economic incentive mechanisms to restrain the degradation of climate conditions, and reinforcement of the international negotiations stalemate between developed and developing nations.

Professor Latin recommends a transformative shift in climate-policy efforts and investments to a “decarbonization” strategy based on adopting greenhouse gas-free technologies as quickly as possible to the greatest extent feasible in as many sectors as feasible. “A ‘clean’ replacement technology approach,” he argues, “is the only realistic way to eliminate the large quantities of persistent residual GHG discharges that are the fatal flaw of the consensus emissions-reduction programs, and it is also the only viable way that affluent nations can meet the economic needs and prosperity goals of developing countries without continuing to degrade global climate conditions.”

In the book’s final chapter, Latin recommends combining four overlapping regulatory regimes and economic incentive programs to implement an effective decarbonization-based climate change program.

Climate Change Policy Failures “will definitely make you think about alternative mitigation approaches,” says former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency general counsel and Yale Law School adjunct professor E. Donald Elliott, who describes Howard Latin as “one of the world’s most provocative and creative environmental experts.” 

Professor Latin was a Fulbright Scholar in Australia during 1992 and South Africa during 1997, and he has traveled to more than 40 countries in the past three decades while conducting research on biodiversity conservation and climate-change problems. He has published numerous articles in the fields of environmental law, torts, and products liability. For the past few years, he has focused on climate-policy mitigation alternatives from a multi-disciplinary perspective: using law, economics, diverse social sciences, and international relations.

In addition to his Fulbright visits, Latin has been a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and UCLA School of Law; a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and the Richardson School of Law of the University of Hawaii; and the 2006 Distinguished Environmental Law Scholar at Lewis & Clark Law School. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute, and has served as a consultant on environmental and torts issues to several government agencies and advocacy groups.

Professor Latin received a B.A. from Brandeis University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.