Practicing Climate Change

by Peter Spiro

It seems that quite a few prominent law firms are establishing climate change practice groups, among them Pillsbury Winthrop, Latham & Watkins, Davis Wright Tremaine, and Hunton & Williams. This shouldn’t be very surprising. Even if the US government has yet to sign on to Kyoto, transnational corporations will have to deal with that and other emissions regimes on many other fronts: in other countries, now in many US states (sometimes together with foreign jurisdictions), emissions trading markets, and along the dimension of social responsibility codes.

What better evidence for the internalization of a norm than the emergence of a related legal practice? It’s not quite an “if you build it they will come” situation, but once law firms are on board, there’s yet another vested interest in taking on the change. It also supplies further evidence that emissions reduction practices are taking hold notwithstanding the US refusal to join the Kyoto regime. Even Exxon now seems to have gotten the message.

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