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International Company and Commercial Law Review. Volume 14 (2003), p. 18-27.


The landscape of UK environmental law is changing rapidly, with important implications for British companies. In recent years, energy activities have surfaced from the relative backwaters of UK environmental regulation to occupy the limelight. The reason is climate change. As the scientific prognosis of global warming firmed, and evidence of the likely economic and ecological ramifications became better understood, authorities in the UK and abroad have sought new policies and laws to stem greenhouse gas emissions. European Union (EU) and international authorities have also come to regard our reliance on dirty fossil fuels and profligate energy consumption as the greatest threat to sustainable development because climate change will eviscerate many environmental processes-and the economic systems that depend on them-in a pervasive way. Most environmental problems in the UK so far have been discrete and specific-an unsightly motorway development here, a polluting factory there-quite unlike global warming, whose omnipresent effects will require comprehensive and integrated policy packages hitherto largely unfamiliar to government administrators.

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