Climate Adaptation

Lights Out, Everybody’s Home

Protecting California’s Most Vulnerable from Climate Effects

Today, rather than walking to campus, I’m home learning the features of Zoom Conference to conduct meetings and classes remotely: UC Berkeley’s campus is shut for its second day in a row, as Pacific Gas and Electric seeks to minimize risk of a wildfire (and associated liability) in the present high wind conditions. Even as […]

Continue Reading

Aging Dams, Forgotten Perils

You’ve heard it before but it’s still true: U.S. infrastructure is a mess.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Critical U.S. infrastructure is dilapidated and unsafe. Regulation is week, and enforcement is weaker. Everyone agrees on the need for action, and climate change will only make the problem worse.  but no one seems to do anything about it. Sadly, this has become a familiar story. Take […]

Continue Reading

Sixth International Geoengineering Governance Summer School, 2019

A brief report from a recent Emmett-convened event

As the severity of climate change risks and the inability of current efforts to adequately limit risks become clear, geoengineering technologies – active large-scale environmental interventions to reduce disruptions caused by elevated greenhouse gases – are increasingly receiving attention and generating controversy. These proposals would either remove and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide or modify the […]

Continue Reading

Launching the California-China Climate Institute

Welcoming a famous new faculty member and a critical new initiative.

I have two exciting announcements to make.  The first is that Jerry Brown has accepted an appointment as visiting professor at the law school and the College of Natural Resources (CNR) at Berkeley.  That appointment would be exciting enough. But it goes hand in hand with my other news: the public launch of the California-China […]

Continue Reading

Governance infrastructure for water resilience

Responding to climate change is more perilous than climbing a frozen waterfall in the sun, and requires even more fortitude and balance. Photo Mike Kiparsky.

CLEE comments on Governor Newsom’s water portfolio executive order

Governor Gavin Newsom has directed state agencies to prepare a water resilience portfolio. Executive Order N-10-19 describes a set of broad principles to inform the development of the portfolio, as well as extensive outreach that should accompany the process, which is being conducted on an aggressive timeline. The EO states, correctly, that California needs a […]

Continue Reading

Principles of Climate Governance

We need to address the procedures and structures for climate policymaking.

There’s a lot of discussion about the substance of climate policy today.  That’s obviously critical, but we also need to think about the procedural and institutional issues involved in making climate policy.  For instance, we need to think about how to divide authority between the states and the federal government.  I thought it would be […]

Continue Reading

Law Schools and the Environment: East Coast Version

Environmental law centers aren’t just a California thing. .

Readers of this blog probably have some sense of what the environmental law centers at UCLA and here at Berkeley are doing. There are too many environmental law centers to do a a comprehensive nationwide survey, and trying to pick a top-10 list would be completely subjective. To keep this post manageable, I’ll only discuss […]

Continue Reading

Of War and the Environment

War and environmental disruption are like evil twins, often found together.

A Vietnam-era slogan  proclaimed that “war is not healthy for children and other living things.”  And war is indeed a danger to the environment. But perhaps less obviously, environmental disruption also makes wars more likely. The slogan was appropriate for its time.  The U.S. deforestation campaign in Southeast Asia caused environmental harm on an unprecedented […]

Continue Reading

Making Key Policy Decisions in Advance of Droughts

Part 6 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t have clearly defined priorities.  This is true for sudden-onset crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset crises, like droughts. My recent posts have explored why the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) should develop a contingency-based framework to support its drought decisions […]

Continue Reading

Developing a Decision-Support Framework for Curtailment

Part 5 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

During a drought, California’s limited water supplies should be allocated transparently, efficiently, and predictably in accordance with the priorities that flow from state and federal law.  But what does this mean in practice? What happens when there is not enough surface water to go around in a watershed?  California water rights law says that certain […]

Continue Reading