Climate Adaptation

Africa in 2050

The continent will face vast challenges. Dealing with them is a global priority.

Take explosive population growth, acute vulnerability to future climate change, and social vulnerability.  Stir well and bake. That’s a recipe for trouble. It’s also Africa in 2050. Overcoming the resulting problems is among humanity’s greatest challenges. Currently, 490 million Africans live below the extreme poverty level ($2/day per person). The number is rising but the …

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Dear 1L . . . .

Welcome to law school. You’re just in time to help save the world.

Dear 1L: You’ve gotten to law school at a crucial time for the future of the planet. The good news is that you’re arriving at a pivotal point when your work as a lawyer can make a big difference. The bad news is that we have a limited amount of time to get the situation …

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What if someone just does it?

A scenario exercise on unauthorized use of solar geoengineering

Note: This post is co-authored with Jesse L. Reynolds, who recently completed an Emmett Institute Geoengineering Governance Fellowship As the climate crisis grows more urgent, unconventional technological responses are getting increased attention and controversy. We’ve written previously on Legal Planet about these technologies and their promise and risks. The most high-stakes and controversial of these …

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What If We Succeed?

If we “beat” climate change, what will we have to show for it?

Suppose we bring climate change under control and deal with its fallout. What will have we achieved? We will have prevented great harm. That, of course, is the main goal. Untamed climate change means an dangerous, ugly future for all of us on “Spaceship Earth.” Preventing that future is surely enough of a reason to …

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Climate News from Capitol Hill

There are small but hopeful signs of progress in overcoming legislative gridlock.

Over a decade ago, the Waxman-Markey carbon trading bill died in the Senate. President Obama then had to rely entirely on administrative actions to address climate change. Republicans united in a solid wall of violent opposition to climate action.  There are some hopeful signs that things may not be quite so tough for President Biden. …

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Facing Up to Reality

More frequent heat waves. Droughts. Wildfires. The West is getting a glimpse of its future climate.

The western U.S. is staring climate change in the face. Most of the West is experiencing “severe” or “exceptional” drought. We could be heading into the worst drought period in centuries. Major dam reservoirs are down to record low levels. The region is also in the grips of a record-breaking heatwave.  We can expect another …

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The Hidden Green-Infrastructure Bill

Every year, Congress provides lavish funding for clean energy and climate adaptation. No one notices.

Biden’s green-infrastructure bill is headline news.  Republicans are up in arms. Yet every year there’s already a green-infrastructure bill.  Hardly anyone notices. Republicans vote for it without a fuss.  Why?  It’s part of the annual funding bill for the military. The Defense Department remains the biggest single consumer of energy in the country, and it …

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What Have We Learned from Recent Disasters?

Disasters are getting bigger, badder, and less predictable. We need to adjust.

Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. California wildfires.  Superstorm Sandy.  The great Texas blackout. The list goes on. These mega-events dramatize the need to improve our disaster response system.  The trends are striking: escalating disaster impacts, more disaster clustering, more disaster cascades, and less predictability.  We need to up our game.  Lisa Grow Sun and I discuss …

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Miami’s New Chief Heat Officer Is a Model for California Cities

Local leaders should embrace the approach

Last month, Miami appointed the country’s first Chief Heat Officer charged with addressing the impacts of extreme heat. Heat is already the leading climate-related cause of death and health impacts, responsible for thousands of US deaths and emergency room visits each year and countless hours of lost productivity and educational attainment. Recent research indicates that …

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Nature As A Carbon Sequestration Solution

New CLEE/Emmett Institute report analyzes policy solutions to accelerate investment

New UC Berkeley/UCLA Law report discusses policy solutions to accelerate investment in nature-based climate solutions in California. Register for a free webinar on Wednesday, June 16 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM Pacific Time with an expert panel to learn about the top findings. This post is co-authored by Katie Segal and Ted Lamm. Some …

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