WHEREAS, in the last quarter century a broad scientific consensus has emerged that human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels, have caused an enhanced greenhouse effect that is driving great changes in the global climate including warming and increasingly extreme weather patterns that endanger humanity and will present enormous challenges for humankind in the near future1; and

WHEREAS, the world's leading scientific organizations have warned repeatedly of the severe human and economic consequences in the near future from global warming (a/k/a global climate change) caused by greenhouse gas emissions including threats to food production, freshwater supplies, coastal infrastructure, and especially the welfare of the huge population currently living in low lying areas; and

WHEREAS, fossil fuel extraction and burning is the greatest driver of greenhouse gas emissions, and decreasing the use of fossil fuels will consequently be crucial to mitigating climate change; and

WHEREAS, our nation's first principle is that all people are created equal and enjoy "certain unalienable rights" to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that government exists to secure these rights; and

WHEREAS, the reports from the scientific community indisputably demonstrate a serious threat to the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all people now living and to be born in the future from global climate change; and

WHEREAS, the scientific community has warned that, while it is not too late to take effective action, the time left to mitigate the harm is disappearing as significant harm is now already occurring; and

WHEREAS, economically and technologically feasible means exist to protect humankind from the worst of climate change without harming the world economy; and

WHEREAS, these economically and technologically feasible means include carbon pricing policies that will capture the external costs of burning fossil fuels and certain land use patterns while creating incentives for the development and mass production of alternative energy technologies; and

WHEREAS, numerous leading economists support carbon pricing policies as a feasible and efficient means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent further harm from global climate change; and

WHEREAS, the mandate to move forward with climate mitigation policies has broad backing in society at large; and

WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Constitution, in the Environmental Rights Amendment, Article 1, Section 27, guarantees to "all of the people, including generations yet to come," "a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment;" and

WHEREAS, the problem of global warming threatens fundamental human rights, the protection of which is a subject of paramount importance to lawyers and the legal community; and

WHEREAS, lawyers can and should contribute to solutions to the problem of global warming through legal measures, including measures to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association, the oldest association of lawyers in the United States, has a history of leadership on environmental protection issues dating at least to the establishment of an Environmental Quality Committee in the early 1970s and continuing with advocacy for legislation protecting the environment and in 2010 the adoption of the Green Ribbon Sustainability Initiative to encourage environmentally friendly behaviors and practices for law firms, legal offices and individual lawyers; and

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association acknowledges its responsibilities to continue to be a leader on environmental protection issues for the purpose of helping to shape the law for the benefit of all citizens, and especially for our children and future generations.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association calls on the U.S. Congress, the Pennsylvania General Assembly and local governments to take immediate and effective action to protect the unalienable rights of all people to a secure and safe environment for life by:

  1. acknowledging the reality and threat of global climate change caused by human activities as reported by the scientific community,
  2. taking immediate and effective action to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and
  3. taking other reasonable measures to focus government at the international, national, state, and local levels on the problem of climate change;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association calls on all people and all sectors of society, including all other associations of legal professionals, all lawyers, and all members of society, to use the powers at their disposal to address global climate change and specifically to promote policies, such as carbon pricing, to reduce the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.

ADOPTED: June 26, 2014

1See, e.g., Third National Climate Assessment, published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (May 2014) (; Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (April 2014) (; What We Know, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (March 2014) (; Climate Change – Evidence and Causes – An Overview from the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences (February 2014) (