The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law engages in a number of activities in support of its mission, including:
Regulatory Tracking and Participation
Climate legislation requires a great deal of rulemaking to become effective. Numerous important policy choices are inherent in almost all of these regulations and studies. The industries that will be affected will assuredly participate vigorously in the development of the regulatory program. There is a real danger, however, that these processes will receive insufficient attention from the public interest community. The Sabin Center plays an important role in systematically tracking all of these regulatory processes, identifying the policy choices inherent in them, alerting groups that could be affected, and directly participating in some of the processes. The center also tracks and disseminates information about licensing proceedings before federal and state regulatory agencies that have major bearing on climate issues.
Development of Model Laws and Best Practices
Countless companies and nonprofit entities are trying to deal with climate change; standardized methods are being developed for some activities (such as greenhouse gas accounting), but others are not well coordinated. Likewise, many state and local governments are trying to formulate their own regulatory programs, and many government lawyers are consigned to starting from scratch. The Sabin Center prepares model laws and best practices to address this problem. Examples of the center’s work in this area include preparing model ordinances for mandating energy efficiency and use of renewable energy resources, and for considering future flood and weather risks in land use planning and construction; guidelines for disclosure of climate risks in transactional documents; and guidelines for disclosure of climate risks in securities filings.
Online Legal Resource Center
Sources of law on climate change are quite disparate and difficult to find. The Sabin Center is working to create a web site that organizes and links a wide range of materials in a searchable format, such as judicial and administrative decisions, pleadings, legislative histories, and regional agreements, to name a few.
Several aspects of the solution to climate change involve so many legal issues that practitioners in all sectors would benefit from book-length treatments. These can best be done as multi-author works, so that chapter authors could bring their own specialties to bear. Some of the books published by the Center and its affiliates include The Law of Green Buildings: Regulatory and Legal Issues in Design, Construction, Operations and Financing, The Law of Clean Energy: Efficiency and Renewables, The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change: United States and International Aspects, and Threatened Island Nations: Legal Implications of Rising Seas and a Changing Climate.
Training and Exchanges
As new local, regional, and federal regulations are put in place, their implementation will require large numbers of people with specialized training. The federal government will presumably train its own employees, but it is less clear how training will be provided to employees of state and local governments and private and nonprofit entities. The Sabin Center, in conjunction with other portions of the university, will develop training programs for members of the board committees and their staffs.
A Global Approach
Some parts of the world, especially much of Europe, are far more advanced than the United States in the development of climate change controls. Others, such as China and India, are much further behind, but their success or failure will have essential implications for the outcome of any global system of climate change mitigation. The Sabin Center strives to find ways to bring together legal scholars, government officials, and practitioners from other parts of the world for the purpose of sharing knowledge of legal and regulatory techniques to adapt to climate change. Further, developments in federal climate change law will likely allow developed countries to obtain carbon credits through complex mitigation programs, which in turn will lead to numerous complex transactions between U.S. companies and entities in countries such as China and India. The Sabin Center is a resource to, and helps provide training for, people on both sides of these transactions.