Chapter 7 Legal and policy levers to prompt action by private climate change actors
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Those seeking to advance climate change mitigation policy and/or obtain compensation for climate change harms utilize a variety of legal and policy levers to engage directly with private actors whose conduct contributes to climate change. One approach seeks to use litigation - lawsuits against entities that have significantly contributed to climate change (most notably the fossil fuel industry and large energy companies) requesting a court order to reduce the emissions-causing conduct and/or damages for the plaintiff’s climate change harms - to directly compel changes to the behavior of or obtain compensation from these private climate change actors. A second broad approach to directly engage private climate change actors works through channels of private climate change governance and seeks to spur and/or support voluntary mitigation or adaptive corporate action. These efforts include everything from education and moral suasion to market pressure (including divestment campaigns and boycotts) and shareholder resolutions. There are numerous levers for prompting voluntary changes in corporate behavior related to climate change and an important way in which law can support private climate change governance is by requiring the disclosure of climate change risks and impacts by private climate change actors under federal securities laws. This Chapter first considers efforts to use the law to hold private climate change actors financially accountable for GHG emitting activities that have contributed to climate change and/or to compel them to cease conduct that exacerbates climate change. The Chapter then turns to consider how law can be used to encourage voluntary climate change mitigation by private climate change actors, primarily through disclosures required under federal securities laws.

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