This literature review supported the following publication:
- Negin Heidari & Joshua M. Pearce. A Review of Greenhouse Gas Emission Liabilities as the Value of Renewable Energy for Mitigating Lawsuits for Climate Change Related Damages. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 55C (2016) pp. 899-908. DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2015.11.025 open access
- Alexis S. Pascaris and Joshua M. Pearce. U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bottlenecks: Prioritization of Targets for Climate Liability. Energies 13(15), 2020, 3932; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13153932 open access
GHG Emission Liability[edit | edit source]
Abstract Flood exposure is increasing in coastal cities1, 2 owing to growing populations and assets, the changing climate3, and subsidence4, 5, 6. Here we provide a quantification of present and future flood losses in the 136 largest coastal cities. Using a new database of urban protection and different assumptions on adaptation, we account for existing and future flood defences. Average global flood losses in 2005 are estimated to be approximately US$6 billion per year, increasing to US$52 billion by 2050 with projected socio-economic change alone. With climate change and subsidence, present protection will need to be upgraded to avoid unacceptable losses of US$1 trillion or more per year. Even if adaptation investments maintain constant flood probability, subsidence and sea-level rise will increase global flood losses to US$60–63 billion per year in 2050. To maintain present flood risk, adaptation will need to reduce flood probabilities below present values. In this case, the magnitude of losses when floods do occur would increase, often by more than 50%, making it critical to also prepare for larger disasters than we experience today. The analysis identifies the cities that seem most vulnerable to these trends, that is, where the largest increase in losses can be expected.
Unusual or extreme weather and climate-related events are of great public concern and interest, yet there are often conflicting messages from scientists about whether such events can be linked to climate change. There is clear evidence that climate has changed as a result of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, and that across the globe some aspects of extremes have changed as a result. But this does not imply that human influence has significantly altered the probability of occurrence or risk of every recently observed weather or climate-related event, or that such events are likely to become significantly more or less frequent in the future. Conversely, it is sometimes stated that it is impossible to attribute any individual weather or climate-related event to a particular cause. Such a statement can be interpreted to mean that human-induced climate change could never be shown to be at least partly responsible for any specific weather event, either the probability of its occurrence or its magnitude. There is clear evidence from recent case studies that individual event attribution is a feasible, if challenging, undertaking.
We propose a way forward, through the development of carefully calibrated physically-based assessments of observed weather and climate-related events, to identify changed risk of such events attributable to particular factors including estimating the contributions of factors to event magnitude. Although such event-specific assessments have so far only been attempted for a relatively small number of specific cases, we describe research under way, coordinated as part of the international Attribution of Climate-related Events (ACE) initiative, to develop the science needed to better respond to the demand for timely, objective, and authoritative explanations of extreme events. The paper considers the necessary components of a prospective event attribution system, reviews some specific case studies made to date (Autumn 2000 UK floods, summer 2003 European heatwave, annual 2008 cool US temperatures, July 2010 Western Russia heatwave) and discusses the challenges involved in developing systems to provide regularly updated and reliable attribution assessments of unusual or extreme weather and climate-related events.
Contributing to local policy making on GHG emission reduction through inventorying and attribution: A case study of Shenyang, China[edit | edit source]
AbstractCities consumed 84% of commercial energy in China, which indicates cities should be the main areas for GHG emissions reduction. Our case study of Shenyang in this paper shows how a clear inventory analysis on GHG emissions at city level can help to identify the major industries and societal sectors for reduction efforts so as to facilitate low-carbon policy-making. The results showed total carbon emission in 2007 was 57 Mt CO2 equivalents (CO2e), of which 41 Mt CO2e was in-boundary emissions and 16 Mt CO2e was out-of-boundary emissions. The energy sector was dominant in the emission inventory, accounting for 93.1% of total emissions. Within energy sector, emissions from energy production industry, manufacturing and construction industry accounted for 88.4% of this sector. Our analysis showed that comparing with geographical boundary, setting system boundary based on single process standard could provide better information to decision makers for carbon emission reduction. After attributing electricity and heating consumption to final users, the resident and commercial sector became the largest emitter, accounting for 28.5% of total emissions. Spatial analysis of emissions showed that industrial districts such as Shenbei and Tiexi had the large potential to reduce their carbon emissions. Implications of results are finally discussed.
- The ideal scope for accounting GHG emissions should include single process and production chain emissions
- Cities consume about three-fourth of global energy and emit about three-fourth of anthropogenic GHGs
- Most protocols and methods focus on accounting the total amount of GHG emissions but are not specifically designed in a manner that fits local statistical data for inventorying and facilitates urban decision makers to prepare their low carbon development policies
- local governments need to understand not only the total emission picture but also detailed emission perspectives from different industrial and societal sector and different geographical areas
- Inventorying GHG emissions of cities requires a specific definition of system boundary within which emissions are counted
- To reduce the total carbon emission, various efforts should be made by considering the local realities, including urban energy structure optimization, industrial structure changes, full implementation of circular economy and capacity-building initiatives
- A probabilistic event attribution framework is used to estimate the contribution of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions which involves comparing an unprecedented number of daily river runoff realisations for the region, under Autumn 2000 scenarios both with and without emissions
- Realisations are produced using publicly volunteered distributed computing power to generate several thousands seasonal forecast resolution climate model simulations that are then fed into a precipitation runoff model
AbstractThis article describes the field of the detection and attribution of cli-mate change and highlights recent progress, major issues, and future directions. The attribution of global temperature variations over the past century to a combination of anthropogenic and natural influences is now well established, with the anthropogenic factors dominating.Other aspects of the climate system, including regional quantities, are increasingly being found to also show a detectable signal of human influence. Of particular interest, though, is the attribution of changes in nonmeteorological quantities, such as hydrological and ecological measures, and of changes in the risk of extreme weather events to an-thropogenic emissions. Methods are being developed for tackling these two problems but are still in the early stages. As the field gradually includes a service focus, the biggest challenges will become the integration of various approaches into an overall framework and the communication of the capabilities and limitations of that framework to the outside community.
- The initial tasks of detection and attribution studies were to determine if the global climate was warming and to determine the cause of any detected change
- The risk of damaging weather events is often the most visible and influential aspect of climate change
- Surface air temperature is the first quantity to be studied in the detection and attribution field because it is well monitored, it is well understood, and it is the first variable to respond to most external influences especially greenhouse gases
- Accurate representation of synoptic frontal systems, needed for examining precipitation in many regions, requires a climate model to be run at such a high resolution that the traditional regression approach is infeasible
A three-perspective view of greenhouse gas emission responsibilities in New Zealand[edit | edit source]
AbstractWhile responsibility for the environmental impacts of production has been commonly assigned to producers, production is driven by consumer demand, and it is valid to question whether impacts should instead be assigned to consumers. However, in each of these approaches producers and consumers either bear the full burden of responsibility or none at all. An example of this is the Kyoto Protocol, where all greenhouse gas emissions areassigned to the producer and no consideration is given to where goods are finally consumed.Rather than taking the conventional producer or consumer responsibility approach, a third perspective is possible in which responsibility is shared. We use input–output analysis to apply all three of these responsibility perspectives to New Zealand's domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Our main findings from the shared responsibility approach are that New Zealand producers are responsible for 44% of domestic emissions, New Zealand consumers take 28%, and 27% are exported. A shared responsibility approach appears to distribute the burden of responsibility and associated liability between parties more fairly,and is likely to be more widely acceptable than pure producer or consumer perspectives.
International Liability as an Instrument to Prevent and Compensate for Climate Change[edit | edit source]
Abstract In this Article, we will examine some of the fundamental questions that would arise in litigation on liability for climate change, covering both domestic and international liability law. We will sketch some of the questions and issues that would have to be dealt with when a potential liability suit is brought. On a practical level, this Article is an attempt to explore the issues and set the agenda for those who wish to pursue such a liability suit. On a more fundamental level, our paper examines the power and limits of liability law to address such a highly complex and transnational issue as climate change.
Liability for Climate Change: The Benefits, the Costs, and the Transaction Costs[edit | edit source]
- Liability for climate change has several advantages: it could generate knowledge about the size and probability of economic damages, and it could create institutions to minimize these costs, such as insurance
- Liability for climate change would be extremely expensive not only in terms of insurance costs but also in terms of transaction costs
- The sum of damage costs and transaction costs per ton of carbon could thus range from $2 to $120 per ton of carbon, depending on how the duty of care is established, what type of accountability rule applies, how damages are awarded, and the size and type of transaction costs involved
- If the United States were to establish a crushingly expensive regime ascribing liability to individual polluters, there would be a serious incentive to relocate GHG intensive industries to to countries such as China and India, which have no or almost no restrictions on GHG emissions and no liability for climate-related damages
Research for Deployment: Incorporating Risk, Regulation, and Liability for Carbon Capture and Sequestration[edit | edit source]
Abstract Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) has the potential to enable deep reductions in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, however this promise can only be fulfilled with large-scale deployment. For this to happen, CCS must be successfully embedded into a larger legal and regulatory context, and any potential risks must be effectively managed. We developed a list of outstanding research and technical questions driven by the demands of the regulatory and legal systems for the geologic sequestration (GS) component of CCS. We then looked at case studies that bound uncertainty within two of the research themes that emerge. These case studies, on surface leakage from abandoned wells and groundwater quality impacts from metals mobilization, illustrate how research can inform decision makers on issues of policy, regulatory need, and legal considerations. A central challenge is to ensure that the research program supports development of general regulatory and legal frameworks, and also the development of geological, geophysical, geochemical, and modeling methods necessary for effective GS site monitoring and verification (M&V) protocols, as well as mitigation and remediation plans. If large-scale deployment of GS is to occur in a manner that adequately protects human and ecological health and does not discourage private investment, strengthening the scientific underpinnings of regulatory and legal decision-making is crucial.
The detection and attribution of climate change using an ensemble of opportunity[edit | edit source]
Abstract The detection and attribution of climate change in the observed record play a central role in synthesizing knowledge of the climate system. Unfortunately, the traditional method for detecting and attributing changes due to multiple forcings requires large numbers of general circulation model (GCM) simulations incorporating different initial conditions and forcing scenarios, and these have only been performed with a small number of GCMs. This paper presents an extension to the fingerprinting technique that permits the inclusion of GCMs in the multisignal analysis of surface temperature even when the required families of ensembles have not been generated. This is achieved by fitting a series of energy balance models (EBMs) to the GCM output in order to estimate the temporal response patterns to the various forcings.
This methodology is applied to the very large Challenge ensemble of 62 simulations of historical climate conducted with the NCAR Community Climate System Model version 1.4 (CCSM1.4) GCM, as well as some simulations from other GCMs. Considerable uncertainty exists in the estimates of the parameters in fitted EBMs. Nevertheless, temporal response patterns from these EBMs are more reliable and the combined EBM time series closely mimics the GCM in the context of transient forcing. In particular, detection and attribution results from this technique appear self-consistent and consistent with results from other methods provided that all major forcings are included in the analysis.
Using this technique on the Challenge ensemble, the estimated responses to changes in greenhouse gases, tropospheric sulfate aerosols, and stratospheric volcanic aerosols are all detected in the observed record, and the responses to the greenhouse gases and tropospheric sulfate aerosols are both consistent with the observed record without a scaling of the amplitude being required. The result is that the temperature difference of the 1996–2005 decade relative to the 1940–49 decade can be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions, with a partially offsetting cooling from sulfate emissions and little contribution from natural sources.
The results support the viability of the new methodology as an extension to current analysis tools for the detection and attribution of climate change, which will allow the inclusion of many more GCMs. Shortcomings remain, however, and so it should not be considered a replacement to traditional techniques.
Climate change, insurability of large-scale disasters and the emerging liability challenge[edit | edit source]
Abstract This paper focuses on the interaction between uncertainty and insurability in the context of some of the risks associated with climate change. It discusses the evolution of insured losses due to weather-related disasters over the past decade, and the key drivers of the sharp increases in both economic and insured catastrophe losses over the past 20 years. In particular we examine the impact of development in hazard-prone areas and of global warming on the potential for catastrophic losses in the future. In this context we discuss the implications for insurance risk capital and the capacity of the insurance industry to handle large-scale events. A key question that needs to be addressed is the factors that determine the insurability of a risk and the extent of coverage offered by the private sector to provide protection against extreme events where there is significant uncertainty surrounding the probability and consequences of a catastrophic loss. We discuss the concepts of insurability by focusing on coverage for natural hazards, such as earthquakes,hurricanes and floods. The paper also focuses on the liability issues associated with global climate change, and possible implications for insurers (including D&O), given the difficulty in identifying potential defendants, tracing harm to their actions and apportioning damages among them. The paper concludes by suggesting ways that insurers can help mitigate future damages from global climate change by providing premium reductions and rate credits to companies investing in risk-reducing measures.
- Catastrophe models and exceedance probability (EP) curves are useful decision aids for determining whether extreme events, such as natural disasters, are insurable risks
- Even after utilizing the outputs from catastrophic models there is an uncertainty in the estimates of the likelihood and consequences of specific events
- Data bases suggest ways that insurance coupled with other policy tools can reduce the risk associated with climate change while providing the financial resources to aid the recovery process when the next large-scale disaster occurs
- For compensation scheme designation, two types of impacts can be put aside like the impacts that are less likely to be clearly identifiable as impacts of climate change, and climate surprises, catastrophic events that are unlikely to happen, such as the collapse of Antarctic ice cap.
- Methods of compensation are private insurance, litigation against responsible private parties, and gaining compensation from government.
- Types of institutional framework that should be utilized for damage assessment and awarding compensation are: 1)Litigation, 2)Administrative Adjudication, 3)Grants, 4)Declaratory relief
Data access and analysis with distributed federated data servers in climate< i> prediction. net[edit | edit source]
Abstract climateprediction.net is a large public resource distributed scientific computing project. Members of the public download and run a full-scale climate model, donate their computing time to a large perturbed physics ensemble experiment to forecast the climate in the 21st century and submit their results back to the project. The amount of data generated is large, consisting of tens of thousands of individual runs each in the order of tens of megabytes. The overall dataset is, therefore, in the order of terabytes. Access and analysis of the data is further complicated by the reliance on donated, distributed, federated data servers. This paper will discuss the problems encountered when the data required for even a simple analysis is spread across several servers and how webservice technology can be used; how different user interfaces with varying levels of complexity and flexibility can be presented to the application scientists, how using existing web technologies such as HTTP, SOAL, XML, HTML and CGI can engender the reuse of code across interfaces; and how application scientists can be notified of their analysis' progress and results in an asynchronous architecture.
Abstract When a damaging extreme meteorological event occurs, the question often arises as to whether that event was caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The question is more than academic, since people affected by the event will be interested in recurring damages if they find that someone is at fault. However, since this extreme event could have occurred by chance in an unperturbed climate, we are currently unable to properly respond to this question. A solution lies in recognising the similarity with the cause-effect issue in the epidemiological field. The approach there is to consider the changes in the risk of the event occurring as attributable, as against the occurrence of the event itself. Inherent in this approach is a recognition that knowledge of the change in risk as well as the amplitude of the forcing itself are uncertain. Consequently, the fraction of the risk attributable to the external forcing is a probabilistic quantity. Here we develop and demonstrate this methodology in the context of the climate change problem.
- The risk represents statistical information on the occurrence of the event, and it can be viewed as being related to the forcing in a deterministic sense
- The implication is that risk, just like climate, can be quite predictable since it depends only on knowledge of future external forcing, while event occurrence and weather are less predictable since they depend strongly on the initial conditions
- The probabilities are uncertain since they are estimated from finite samples and the individual samples themselves are only approximations of the true system
- A step function is assumed for damage function, i.e. either the event does or does not occur
Abstract This paper considers the coordination of domestic markets for tradable emission permits where countries determine their own emission reduction targets, using a two-country model. Linking such schemes is beneficial to both countries but may cause the exporting country to decrease its emission reduction target and export more permits. This in turn would not only reduce the costs for both countries as less emissions have to be reduced, but it also lowers the environmental benefits of the importing country.
One price instrument (tariff) and two quantity instruments (discount, quota) to prevent the exporting country from issuing more permits are examined. Each instrument restricts trade and alters the terms of trade for the two countries. The importing country (and regulator) prefers an import tariff and an import quota to a carbon discount. If the exporting country releases additional permits, the importing country should not try to keep total emissions constant, as that would be ineffective and maybe even counterproductive. Instead, the importing country should aim to keep the total import constant; this would impose costs on the exporting country that are independent of the policy instrument; an import quota would be the cheapest option for the importing country. An import quota would also stress the idea of supplementary of the flexible mechanism as it increases the share of emissions reduced domestically. Compliance and liability issues constrain the market further. However, both the importing and the exporting country would prefer that the permit seller is liable in case of non-compliance, as sellers' liability would less constrain the market.
- Each firm would have to demonstrate to the regulator that its actual emissions do not exceed its total amount of permits
- If a firm is out of compliance because it has sold too much, that is the problem of that firm and not a problem of the firms it has traded with
- The regulating company can regulate the market with price and quantity instruments and this can be done to smoothen regulatory differences between the countries
AbstractWhen a damaging extreme meteorological event occurs, the question often arises as to whether that event was caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The question is more than academic, since people affected by the event will be interested in recurring damages if they find that someone is at fault. However, since this extreme event could have occurred by chance in an unperturbed climate, we are currently unable to properly respond to this question. A solution lies in recognising the similarity with the cause-effect issue in the epidemiological field. The approach there is to consider the changes in the risk of the event occurring as attributable, as against the occurrence of the event itself. Inherent in this approach is a recognition that knowledge of the change in risk as well as the amplitude of the forcing itself are uncertain. Consequently, the fraction of the risk attributable to the external forcing is a probabilistic quantity. Here we develop and demonstrate this methodology in the context of the climate change problem.
Red Dawn, Blue Thunder, Purple Rain: Corporate Risk of Liability for Global Climate Change and the SEC Disclosure Dilemma[edit | edit source]
- Death and spread of disease in vulnerable populations are of consequences of global warming
- Shareholders started to mobilize for reducing greenhouse gases because of the risks that a shareholder might face by selecting a portfolio that is rich in GHG producing activities.
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AbstractThis paper describes the potential applications of renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuel combustion as the prime energy sources in various countries, and discusses problems associated with biomass combustion in boiler power systems. Here, the term biomass includes organic matter produced as a result of photosynthesis as well as municipal, industrial and animal waste material. Brief summaries of the basic concepts involved in the combustion of biomass fuels are presented. Renewable energy sources (RES) supply 14% of the total world energy demand. RES are biomass, hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind and marine energies. The renewables are the primary, domestic and clean or inexhaustible energy resources. The percentage share of biomass was 62.1% of total renewable energy sources in 1995. Experimental results for a large variety of biomass fuels and conditions are presented. Numerical studies are also discussed. Biomass is an attractive renewable fuel in utility boilers. The compositions of biomass among fuel types are variable. Ash composition for the biomass is fundamentally different from ash composition for the coal. Especially inorganic constituents cause to critical problems of toxic emissions, fouling and slagging. Metals in ash, in combination with other fuel elements such as silica and sulfur, and facilitated by the presence of chlorine, are responsible for many undesirable reactions in combustion furnaces and power boilers. Elements including K, Na, S, Cl, P, Ca, Mg, Fe, Si are involved in reactions leading to ash fouling and slagging in biomass combustors. Chlorine in the biomass may affect operation by corrosion. Ash deposits reduce heat transfer and may also result in severe corrosion at high temperatures. Other influences of biomass composition are observed for the rates of combustion and pollutant emissions. Biomass combustion systems are non-polluting and offer significant protection of the environment. The reduction of greenhouse gases pollution is the main advantage of utilizing biomass energy.
Estimating the price of tradable permits for greenhouse gas emissions in 2008–12[edit | edit source]
Abstract Many attempts have been made recently to predict the prices of tradable permits for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008–12). In this paper, we attempt to refine these price estimates based on (i) the results of economic models and identification of factors which influence prices but are not fully reflected in the models, (ii) lessons from price forecasting experience in the US sulfur dioxide market, and (iii) current price data from the nascent international market for GHG permits. We expect GHG permit prices to be at the lower end of the broad spectrum of existing predictions. This implies, among other things, that resource transfers to developing countries associated with emissions trading will be relatively low. Nevertheless, even a modest price will have a significant influence on the decisions of consumers and investors in energy markets around the world.
Climate Change: It's Not Just a Policy Issue for Corporate Counsel - It's a Legal Problem[edit | edit source]
- The Kyoto Protocol provides three market-based mechanisms:1) emissions trading 2)joint implementation 3) the clean development mechanism
- Development of a climate change action plan requires minimum components as follow: 1. Preparation of inventory of past and present carbon emissions 2. Enrollment in a registry 3. Ongoing accounting systems for carbon 4. Political attentiveness 5. SEC reporting 6. Public and private assistance
- It is possible to estimate by how much human activity may have increased the risk of the occurrence of extreme weather events
- First the origins of long term changes in decadal-mean European summer temperatures have been investigated, determining the changes attributable to anthropogenic drivers of the climate system and changes attributable to natural drivers, then we estimate how the risk of mean June-August temperatures exceeding a particular extreme threshold in any individual summer has changed as a result of this anthropogenic interference in the climate system
- A necessary requirement for any detection of significant warming is that HadCM3 adequately represents the natural internal variability of European summer temperatures
- A set of speckle-tracking algorithms is used to determine the 1992,1994, 1995 and 2000 velocities from 1-24-day image pairs. Speckle tracking uses the displacement of the correlated speckle patterns in pairs of SAR images to derive ice motion estimates
- The 2001 through 2003 estimates were derived using the IMCORR feature-tracking software applied to 16-to-64-day Landsat image pairs
- Established methods were applied to passive microwave data to determine the 2002 melt extent
- More than half the risk of the heatwave occured in 2003 was due to human influence, specially greenhouse gases
- The critical issue is working out who will pay the cost of adaptation, and compensation for those who cannot adapt
- In order to produce an equitable distribution of liability the concept of averaging over possibilities has been used
- It is impossible to say that how much the human influence has contributed to an actual weather event
- We are facing some challenges in tracking down who has emitted what, and where liability lies
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