Climate Law in our Hands

Climate change is and has been a buzz in many different industries over the last few decades. In more recent years it has come into more and more conversations about real estate and property law, as well as real estate and property development.

The Definition

What Is Climate Change?

The definition of climate change varies from different sources but a basic definition is that climate change is the changes in the statistical distribution of weather patterns, when that change lasts for an extended period of time. These periods can be anywhere from several decades to millions of years. It refers to significant changes in global precipitation, temperature, wind and current patterns, and other measures of climate. A broad way of describing climate change is that it is a change in global or regional climate patterns.

Climate change became a hot topic in the mid to late 20th century onwards with, different factions arguing its validity and what sorts of impacts, if any, it would have on the planet as a whole.

climate law

Although there are still some camps that argue against this, there is much scientific data to support that from the 20th century onward, climate change can be largely attributed to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that come mainly from human activities where a significant amount is produced by the use of fossil fuels.

Some of the more concrete effects of climate change include sea levels as well as the salinization levels of their waters are rising, ecosystems are changing, and species are adapting or struggling and eventually becoming extinct.  

How Can Climate Change Affect Real Estate and Property?

Climate change can affect different aspects of real estate and property. It can affect property value, construction materials, building habits and zoning laws.  Policy and local, federal, and international laws can be affected directly and indirectly by climate change.

With climate change becoming more real and more apparent to adults around the world, people are becoming more careful about where they are building and buying homes. The average person looking to buy a home in a new housing development 50 years ago was probably not thinking, or perhaps even aware of the fact that it was built up against hills and canyons that catch on fire every few decades or so, or that it might be built in an area that is prone to debris flows, or in area where flooding, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, or other natural disasters are to be expected even though people do not know when or how frequently they will occur.

Does the US have Legal Carbon Emission Targets?

One example of how climate change may affect real estate and property are beach communities. In the United States, ocean front properties tend to be of the highest property values of any particular region they are located in whereas in many countries, because of the dangers of living so close to unpredictable oceans without much shelter, they are often populated by people of lower socioeconomic levels. As the climate changes, many of the ways we used to be able to build safely near the ocean will either change or become impossible. Because of this, zoning laws and tax laws are likely to change as well.  

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