The Emergence of Climate Law Courses

It’s an increasingly widespread law school course.

The U.S. legal system has only begun to address climate change in the past ten or fifteen years. It was inevitable that this subject would infiltrate basic environmental law courses, especially given that there have now been three Supreme Court cases on the subject.  But climate change is now increasingly the subject of separate courses and seminars.

I recently conducted a survey of environmental law professors and found that almost sixty schools now have a regular offering on climate law.  The full list is at the end of this post.  It includes a wide range of schools in terms of geography (including schools in Australia, Canada, and South Africa).  It includes schools from all levels of the U.S. News rankings.  The list is surely underinclusive because some people may not have received the survey or didn’t respond.

It seems inevitable that there will be more climate classes as time goes on – not only will there be more law on the subject, but the subject will loom increasingly large in the real world.  There may well be separate courses on mitigation (reducing carbon) and adaptation to climate change.  My guess is that climate change will not only be the subject of separate courses, but it will also appear in various other parts of the curriculum.  Climate may show up in the casebooks  in securities law cases about whether corporations properly disclosed their exposure to climate risks, in contracts cases about carbon allowances, in constitutional cases about the power of states to regulate carbon, in IP cases about low-carbon technologies, and in property rights cases about coastal areas. Something as pervasive as climate change will necessarily pop up in many different legal contexts.


For those who are interested, here is the list of schools regularly teaching climate law in order of response: University of Minnesota Law School, University of Florida , NYU School of Law, Baba Farid Law College (Faridkot, India), Albany Law School, Cardozo School of Law, College of William & Mary, University of Houston Law Center, Lewis and Clark,William S. Richardson School of Law -University of Hawai’i, American University/Washington College of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law, Florida A&M College of Law , Syracuse Unviersity College of Law, Widener University School of Law,  University of Mississippi School of Law, University of Missouri, Golden Gate University, School of Law Rutgers University – Camden, Ohio Northern University College of Law, UCLA School of Law, Stanford Law School, Vanderbilt University Law School, North-West University (South Africa), Rutgers University School of Law – Newark , Notre Dame ,Texas A&M University School of Law, Pace Law School, University of Oregon, UC Hastings College of Law, University of San Diego, Duke Law School, Ohio State University, UC Davis School of Law, University of Tulsa, Vermont Law School, Southern Methodist University, Suffolk University Law School, Hofstra Law School, University of Cincinnati, Temple University, Widener University School of Law,George Washington University Law School, Chicago-Kent College of Law, University of Miami School of Law, Florida State University College of Law, University of Colorado Law School, Boston College Law School, Australian National University, LSU Law School, University of Michigan Law School, Dalhousie University, University of Washington School of Law, UNC Chapel Hill School of Law, Charlotte School of Law, Columbia Law School.

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