What Are Law Schools Doing About Climate Change?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Law schools produce volumes of scholarship on climate change and energy issues.  They also train the next generation of leaders in environmental law.  Those are the traditional roles, but many law schools are also engaging more directly with those issues.  I’ve put together a sample of some current programs, which illustrate the depth and diversity of law school engagement.

Here are some programs that I found in a quick sampling of schools:

  • An energy law clinic working on community solar.
  • Institute exploring possibilities of carbon tax.
  • An international environmental law program that offers assistance to the most vulnerable countries in international climate negotiations.
  • Establishing guidance to help communities adjust to the loss of a coal power plant.
  • An initiative working with businesses and state regulators to identify and remove barriers to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate adaptation.
  • A center providing a clearinghouse and guidance regarding state energy and climate programs.
  • An initiative research collaborations on grid modernization, clean energy innovation, and unconventional natural gas development.
  • Litigating on behalf of a teenager whose petition for action on climate change was rejected by a state agency.
  • A clinic representing a state clean energy association.
  • A center that does scholarship and advocacy on the social cost of carbon.
  • A clinic that analyzes markets for renewable energy credits and also works on issues involving climate refugees.

To avoid focusing on initiatives that I’m familiar with, I checked the websites of the top environmental programs (from US News).  Nearly all the schools have multiple initiatives, but I only picked one.  I’m also familiar with great energy and climate programs at other schools that weren’t chosen by US News. In other words, the list given above is only the tip of the iceberg.

All of this is in addition to what individual faculty do, through their teaching, research, or public service.  Not that law schools are central to the effort, but it’s good to know that we’re making a contribution to the fight against climate change.

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