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Introduction: Governing Wicked Problems, J. B. Ruhl, J. Salzman Jan 2020

Introduction: Governing Wicked Problems, J. B. Ruhl, J. Salzman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

“Wicked problems.” It just says it all. Persistent social problems—poverty, food insecurity, climate change, drug addiction, pollution, and the list goes on—seem aptly condemned as wicked. But what makes them wicked, and what are we to do about them? The concept of wicked problems as something more than a generic description has its origins in the late 1960s. Professor Horst Rittel of the University of California, Berkeley, Architecture Department posed the term in a seminar to describe “that class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision ...


Beyond Wickedness: Managing Complex Systems And Climate Change, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jonathan M. Gilligan Jan 2020

Beyond Wickedness: Managing Complex Systems And Climate Change, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jonathan M. Gilligan

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article examines the argument that climate change is a "super wicked" problem. It concludes that the wicked problem concept is best viewed as a rhetorical device that served a valuable function in arguing against technocratic hubris in the early 1970s but is unhelpful and possibly counterproductive as a tool for modern climate policy analysis. Richard Lazarus improved on this analysis by emphasizing the urgency of a climate response in his characterization of the climate problem as "super wicked." We suggest another approach based on Charles Lindblom's "science of muddling through." The muddling through approach supports the rhetorical points ...


What Happens When The Green New Deal Meets The Old Green Laws?, J. B. Ruhl Jan 2020

What Happens When The Green New Deal Meets The Old Green Laws?, J. B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The multi-faceted infrastructure goals of the Green New Deal will be impossible to achieve in the desired time frames if the existing federal, state, and local siting and environmental protection statutory regimes are applied. Business, labor, property rights, environmental protection, and social justice interests will use them to grind the Green New Deal to a snail's pace. Using the renewable energy transition as the infrastructure case study, this Essay is a call to arms for the need to design New Green Laws for the Green New Deal. Part I briefly summarizes what we are learning about the pace and ...


Keynote: Motivating Private Climate Governance: The Role Of The Efficiency Gap, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2018

Keynote: Motivating Private Climate Governance: The Role Of The Efficiency Gap, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In response to the shrinking federal role in environmental protection, many policy advocates have focused on the role of states and cities, but this symposium focuses on another important source of sustainability initiatives: the private sector, including corporations, households, civic and cultural organizations, religious organizations, private hospitals, colleges and universities, and other organizations. States, cities, and local governments are increasingly important, but the limited geographic reach of subnational governments and widespread concerns about the size and intrusiveness of the public sector constrain their ability to address many environmental problems. Private governance initiatives offer an opportunity to bypass concerns about big ...


Constrained Regulatory Exit In Energy Law, Jim Rossi Jan 2018

Constrained Regulatory Exit In Energy Law, Jim Rossi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In recent years, the federal government’s efforts to open up competitive electricity markets have transformed how we think about the regulation of energy. In many respects, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) broad “deregulatory” efforts, which commenced in the 1990s, might appear to be a case of paradigmatic regulatory exit as defined by J.B. Ruhl and Jim Salzman. But our case study of FERC’s restructuring of wholesale electricity markets reveals some important institutional features that make exit in federalism contexts, and under federal statutory duties, a rich and difficult problem. In the context of energy, exit ...


Private Governance Responses To Climate Change: The Case Of Global Civil Aviation, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Daniel J. Metzger Jan 2018

Private Governance Responses To Climate Change: The Case Of Global Civil Aviation, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Daniel J. Metzger

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article explores how private governance can reduce the climate effects of global civil aviation. The civil aviation sector is a major contributor to climate change, accounting for emissions comparable to a top ten emitting country. National and international governmental bodies have taken important steps to address civil aviation, but the measures adopted to date are widely acknowledged to be inadequate. Civil aviation poses particularly difficult challenges for government climate mitigation efforts. Many civil aviation firms operate globally, emissions often occur outside of national boundaries, nations differ on their respective responsibilities, and demand is growing rapidly. Although promising new technologies ...


Free Trade, Fair Trade, And Selective Enforcement, Timothy Meyer Jan 2018

Free Trade, Fair Trade, And Selective Enforcement, Timothy Meyer

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The 2016 presidential election was one of the most divisive in recent memory, but it produced a surprising bipartisan consensus. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders all agreed that U.S. trade agreements should be, but are not, “fair.” Although only achieving broad consensus recently, the critique that U.S. trade agreements are unfair has been around for decades. Since 1992, much of this fairness critique has focused on ensuring that trade liberalization does not undermine non-commercial values, such as environmental protection and labor conditions. Beginning with the negotiation and ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA ...


Stranded Costs And Grid Decarbonization, Jim Rossi, Emily Hammond Jan 2017

Stranded Costs And Grid Decarbonization, Jim Rossi, Emily Hammond

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Over the past half century, energy law has endured many stranded cost experiments, each helping firms and customers adjust to a new normal. However, these past experiments have contributed to a myopic regulatory approach to past stranded cost recovery by: (1) endorsing a preference for addressing all stranded costs only after energy resource investment decisions have been made; and (2) fixating on the firm’s financial costs and protection of investors, rather than on the broader impacts of each on the energy system.

The current transition to decarbonization is already giving rise to stranded cost claims related to existing energy ...


Global Public Goods, Governance Risk, And International Energy, Timothy Meyer Jan 2012

Global Public Goods, Governance Risk, And International Energy, Timothy Meyer

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Scholars and commentators have long argued that issue linkages provide a way to increase cooperation on global public goods by increasing participation in global institutions, building consensus, and deterring free-riding. In this symposium article, I argue that the emphasis on the potential of issue linkages to facilitate cooperation in these ways has caused commentators to underestimate how common features of international legal institutions designed to accomplish these aims can actually undermine those institutions’ ability to facilitate cooperation. I focus on two features of institutional design that are intended to encourage participation in public goods institutions but can create the risk ...


Good For You, Bad For Us: The Financial Disincentive For Net Demand, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2012

Good For You, Bad For Us: The Financial Disincentive For Net Demand, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article examines a principal barrier to reducing U.S. carbon emissions — electricity distributors’ financial incentives to sell more of their product — and introduces the concept of net demand reduction (“NDR”) as a primary goal for the modern energy regulatory system. Net electricity demand must decrease substantially from projected levels for the United States to achieve widely-endorsed carbon targets by 2050. Although social and behavioral research has identified cost-effective ways to reduce electricity demand, state-of-the-art programs to curtail demand have not been implemented on a widespread basis. We argue that electric distribution utilities are important gatekeepers that can determine whether ...


Good For You, Bad For Us: The Financial Disincentive For Net Demand Reduction, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jim Rossi Jan 2012

Good For You, Bad For Us: The Financial Disincentive For Net Demand Reduction, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jim Rossi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article examines a principal barrier to reducing U.S. carbon emissions — electricity distributors’ financial incentives to sell more of their product — and introduces the concept of net demand reduction (“NDR”) as a primary goal for the modern energy regulatory system. Net electricity demand must decrease substantially from projected levels for the United States to achieve widely-endorsed carbon targets by 2050. Although social and behavioral research has identified cost-effective ways to reduce electricity demand, state-of-the-art programs to curtail demand have not been implemented on a widespread basis. We argue that electric distribution utilities are important gatekeepers that can determine whether ...


Supply And Demand: Barriers To A New Energy Future, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh, J. B. Ruhl Jan 2012

Supply And Demand: Barriers To A New Energy Future, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh, J. B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Like many fields, energy law has had its ups and downs. A period of remarkable activity in the 1970s and early 1980s focused on the efficiencies arising from deregulation of energy markets, but the field attracted much less attention during the 1990s. In the last decade, a new burst of activity has occurred, driven largely by the implications of energy production and use for climate change. In effect, this new scholarship is asking what efficiency means in a carbon-constrained world. Accounting for carbon has induced scholars to challenge the implicit assumption of the early scholarship that the price of energy ...


Macro-Risks: The Challenge For Rational Risk Regulation, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jonathan A. Gilligan Jan 2011

Macro-Risks: The Challenge For Rational Risk Regulation, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jonathan A. Gilligan

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Drawing on the recent financial crisis, we introduce the concept of macro-risk. We distinguish between micro-risks, which can be managed within conventional economic frameworks, and macro-risks, which threaten to disrupt economic systems so much that a different approach is required. We argue that catastrophic climate change is a prime example of a macro-risk. Research by climate scientists suggests disturbingly high likelihoods of temperature increases and sea level rises that could cause the kinds of systemic failures that almost occurred with the financial system. We suggest that macro-risks should be the principal concern of rational risk assessment and management, but they ...


Climate Change Governance: Boundaries And Leakage, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Mark A. Cohen Jan 2010

Climate Change Governance: Boundaries And Leakage, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Mark A. Cohen

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This article provides a critical missing piece to the global climate change governance puzzle: how to create incentives for the major developing countries to reduce carbon emissions. The major developing countries are projected to account for 80% of the global emissions growth over the next several decades, and substantial reductions in the risk of catastrophic climate change will not be possible without a change in this emissions path. Yet the global climate governance measures proposed to date have not succeeded and may be locking in disincentives as carbon-intensive production shifts from developed to developing countries. A multi-pronged governance approach will ...


Micro-Offsets And Macro-Transformation: An Inconvenient View Of Climate Change Justice, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Brooke A. Ackerly, Fred E. Forster Jan 2009

Micro-Offsets And Macro-Transformation: An Inconvenient View Of Climate Change Justice, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Brooke A. Ackerly, Fred E. Forster

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

We have been asked to examine climate change justice by discussing the methods of allocating the costs of addressing climate change among nations. Our analysis suggests that climate and justice goals cannot be achieved by better allocating the emissions reduction burdens of current carbon mitigation proposals — there may be no allocation of burdens using current approaches that achieves both climate and justice goals. Instead, achieving just the climate goal without exacerbating justice concerns, much less improving global justice, will require focusing on increasing well-being and inducing fundamental changes in development patterns to generate greater levels of well-being with reduced levels ...


Individual Carbon Emissions: The Low-Hanging Fruit, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jack Barkenbus, Jonathan Gilligan Jan 2008

Individual Carbon Emissions: The Low-Hanging Fruit, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jack Barkenbus, Jonathan Gilligan

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The individual and household sector generates roughly 30 to 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and is a potential source of prompt and large emissions reductions. Yet the assumption that only extensive government regulation will generate substantial reductions from the sector is a barrier to change, particularly in a political environment hostile to regulation. This Article demonstrates that prompt and large reductions can be achieved without relying predominantly on regulatory measures. The Article identifies seven "low-hanging fruit:" actions that have the potential to achieve large reductions at less than half the cost of the leading current federal legislation ...


Climate Change: The China Problem, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2008

Climate Change: The China Problem, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The central problem confronting climate change scholars and policymakers is how to create incentives for China and the United States to make prompt, large emissions reductions. China recently surpassed the United States as the largest greenhouse gas emitter, and its projected future emissions far outstrip those of any other nation. Although the United States has been the largest emitter for years, China's emissions have enabled critics in the United States to argue that domestic reductions will be ineffective and will transfer jobs to China. These two aspects of the China Problem, Chinese emissions and their influence on the political ...


Climate Change: The Equity Problem, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Brooke A. Ackerly Jan 2008

Climate Change: The Equity Problem, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Brooke A. Ackerly

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

A substantial proportion of the United States population is at or below the poverty level, yet many of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures proposed or adopted to date will increase the costs of energy, motor vehicles, and other consumer goods. This essay suggests that although scholarship and policymaking to date have focused on the disproportionate impact of these increased costs on the low-income population, the costs will have two important additional effects. First, the anticipated costs will generate political opposition from social justice groups, reducing the likelihood that aggressive measures will be adopted. Second, to the extent aggressive measures ...


The Carbon-Neutral Individual, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Anne C. Steinemann Jan 2007

The Carbon-Neutral Individual, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Anne C. Steinemann

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Reducing the risk of catastrophic climate change will require leveling off greenhouse gas emissions over the short term and reducing emissions by an estimated 60-80% over the long term. To achieve these reductions, we argue that policymakers and regulators should focus not only on factories and other industrial sources of emissions but also on individuals. We construct a model that demonstrates that individuals contribute roughly one-third of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. This one-third share accounts for roughly 8% of the world's total, more than the total emissions of any other country except China, and more than ...


The New Wal-Mart Effect: The Role Of Private Contracting In Global Governance, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2007

The New Wal-Mart Effect: The Role Of Private Contracting In Global Governance, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.