Rising Tides-Toward a Federal Climate Resilience Fund

September 2022
ELR 10703
Alisa White

Climate impacts in the United States disproportionately fall on low-income communities and communities of color. As the costs of climate adaptation mount, municipalities and states have brought litigation against fossil fuel companies to recover for extensive damage caused by climate change. Drawing on lessons from previous tobacco and asbestos suits, this Article argues that damages litigation—while properly heard in state courts—has significant shortcomings as an equitable climate change adaptation strategy. It proposes a federal statutory response: first, establish a Climate Adaptation Priorities (CAP) list modelled after CERCLA’s National Priorities List; second, disburse funds for climate change resilience directly to community groups and local and tribal governments; and third, fund the climate resilience fund with fees on present and historical emissions by fossil fuel companies, as well as a capital gains tax on fossil fuel asset transactions.

Alisa White is a 2023 J.D. candidate at Yale Law School, and a Master of Environmental Science candidate at Yale School of the Environment.

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