Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Using the Tools of Pollution Prevention to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

September 2009

Citation: 39 ELR 10851

Issue: 9

Author: Richard Reibstein

Our public debate about policy to combat climate change sometimes seems limited to a choice between trading and taxes. Yet, there are other tools of governance that could be more actively examined. The problem of global warming is so big that we should be actively pursuing a "full-toolbox" approach of doing everything we can, and considering how each strategy can be synergistically implemented in concert with other strategies. This Article argues for greater attention to a suite of tools successfully used to promote pollution prevention: assistance, planning, and expanded right to know reporting. These tools employ a mode of governance that may be termed "relational," where government complements traditional enforcement with efforts to encourage self-responsibility and enlist collaboration with willing members of the regulated community. That community is not a homogeneous group, but is composed of many different entities presenting a great variety of motivations and capacities. A full-toolbox, relational approach can more powerfully control risks and harness the potential for creative solutions, fostering not just environmental progress but also building the social and intellectual capital necessary for the technological and economic advancement that will most effectively solve our problems. The pollution prevention (P2) movement provides examples of how we might best use government to mobilize resources to address global warming.

Richard Reibstein is a Lecturer in Environmental Law and Policy at Boston University and an Environmental Analyst at the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance. Mr. Reibstein's opinions are his own and should not be attributed to the institutions with which he is affiliated.

Download Article >>>