United States

Status under International Climate Change Law

  • UNFCCC: signature and ratification (15 Oct 1992)
  • KP: signature only
    Quantified emission limitation or reduction commitment: -7
  • Vienna Convention: signature and ratification (27 Aug 1986)
  • Montreal Protocol: signature and ratification (21 Apr 1988)
  • LRTAP: signature and ratification (30 Nov 1981) as well as signature and ratification of 1984, 1988, 1998 (heavy metals only) and 1999 Protocols (signature of 1991 and 1998 POP Protocols but no ratification)
  • Energy Charter: observer
  • Energy Efficiency Protocol: observer
  • Espoo Convention: signature only
  • UNFCCC Commitment: The United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%.


A comprehensive chart of U.S. climate change case law, organized by both claim and case name, with links to decisions, briefs, and memos, is available here.

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Federal Laws on Climate Change


Although comprehensive climate change legislation has been proposed on several occasions, there is no federal law in the United States that explicitly requires public entities or private companies to mitigate their impact on global climate. Many other laws, including those listed below, have the effect of requiring or encouraging mitigation. For up to date information on new federal climate legislation please visit our Climate Legislation Tracker.

Air Protection

  • Clean Air Act (1970)




Environmental Impact Assessment


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Local, State, and Regional Legislation and Initiatives

In the absence of comprehensive federal legislation on greenhouse gas emissions, local, state, and regional initiatives have emerged. In addition to climate plans and initiatives, many states have relevant laws governing energy, renewable portfolio standards, public benefit funds, net metering, green pricing, and appliance efficiency. A more comprehensive list of states climate laws is available here.

State Climate Action Plans

Regional Climate Initiatives

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U.S. Government Documents

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Factual Matters

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NGO Resources

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Secondary Sources

Michael B. Gerrard & Gregory E. Wannier, United States of America, in CLIMATE CHANGE LIABILITY, 556-603 (Richard Lord et al. eds., Cambridge University Press 2011)

More available here.

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Updated as of: December 2013