Governments must legislate to ‘green’ communities, says law expert

Governments must legislate to ‘green’ communities, says law expert


To win the battle against climate change, national and local governments must work together to impose far-reaching ‘sustainable development' laws on local communities.

The call for sweeping changes to land use and planning legislation comes from John R. Nolon, Professor of Law at Pace University, writing in the Planning & Environmental Law journal, which Routledge publishes for the American Planning Association.

He writes: "Combating climate change requires that the full legal power, technical capacity, financial resources and historical strengths of all levels of government be integrated into a single system of management, mitigation and sustainable development."

He argues that government can only demand low-mileage lifestyles and energy-efficient buildings by creating new legislation that is enforceable through the courts and a strict system of penalties.

Commenting on his article ‘Climate Change and Sustainable Development: The Quest for Green Communities', Professor Nolon said: "Buildings and privately owned vehicles generate almost half of all CO2 emissions in developed countries, so our whole infrastructure needs to be more energy-efficient. The environmental planning framework we currently have in the United States and elsewhere will not cut CO2 emissions quickly enough. We need to encourage local leaders and citizens to accept more compact, mixed use neighbourhoods, public transport, wind turbines, solar panels, district energy systems and all else it takes to make communities green."

Professor Nolon's articles, published in volume 61, issues 10 and 11 of Planning & Environmental Law, are available to download for free from: and

For information about Planning & Environmental Law please visit the journal homepage at:

Posted December 18, 2009

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