Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Steven Ferrey


International solutions, reaching across different types of economies and systems of governance in two hundred world nations, have achieved a new urgency: Leading world climate scientists declare that in the next five years, the world is at a "tipping point" beyond which there is scant redemption from climate catastrophe. It is clear that solutions must quickly focus on a new energy infrastructure, somehow implemented across fundamentally different systems of national governance and economy, to abate rapidly exploding CO2 emissions from unrestrained, cheap fossil-fuel energy use.

While the press coverage of the recent Copenhagen and Cancun international climate conferences concentrated on developed nations, this focus on the most visible targets misses the larger, submerged underside of the world climate iceberg. This Article takes a more deeply submerged perspective to focus on what will and will not work to address escalating global power demand in developing countries with radically different economies and systems of government. It examines the successful legal model for infrastructure restructuring to arrest climate change from the ground up. And it focuses on market economies, as well as on one of the last communist economies in the world.

There is a profound political, as well as technological, challenge: Market-based solutions may not work in every system of governance in developing countries. Vietnam, as one of the last four communist governments in the world, is a detailed illustration of how to get things right in an important place: Vietnam is larger in population than any country in the European Union and sports the fastest electricity growth rate in the world. It is the acid test of how to get infrastructure policy "right" in diverse world economic systems.

This Article examines a model of legal reforms applicable to all international political systems, and it concludes by charting how to leverage the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) components of the Kyoto Protocol to expedite this success in developing countries internationally. To do less now at the "tipping point" is to lose the war on global warming.