Publications by Students
This paper explores impacts that climate change will have on water quality and tools available under the Clean Water Act to address those impacts. It then describes how advocates can push state and federal agencies to adapt in response to the water quality impacts expected to follow from climate change.
This paper considers what actions the United Nations Security Council has taken with regard to climate change thus far, and what actions the Security Council could legally take going forward. The U.N. Charter and the literature suggest that the UNSC could theoretically take two possible actions related to climate change: (1) handle discrete, traditional conflicts partially or wholly caused by climate change; (2) find that climate change represents a “threat to international peace and security”, placing the topic within the mandate of the Council, and employ its Chapter VI and VII powers to mitigate or adapt to climate change. This memorandum focuses primarily on the second, more controversial option, which could include the imposition of economic sanctions, the creation of a subsidiary climate change committee, and even the use of force.
This paper explores the impact that climate change will have on flooding and provides details on the operation and functions of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The paper then discuss the ways the current regime discourages adaptation to climate change, and offers suggestions for how readers can promote climate change adaptation by advocating for changes to the NFIP.
This paper poses three questions: 1) Can greenhouse gases be regulated under §112 of the Clean Air Act? 2) If they were to be regulated in this way, what would be the practical consequences? 3) Should greenhouse gases be regulated this way? The author concludes that: greenhouse gases can indeed be regulated under §112; if they were to be regulated, the practical consequences would be substantial but potentially manageable; and whether or not they should be regulated in this way depends entirely on the nature and survival of the upcoming New Source Performance Standards under §111(d). If §111(d) regulation survives, the question of whether or not §112 regulation could co-exist arises, with the answer being in the affirmative albeit with potentially prohibitive difficulties. If §111(d) regulation fails, §112 regulation may serve as a regulatory last resort on which the Environmental Protection Agency may have to rely in order to seriously tackle the threat of climate change.
This paper explains how citizens and governments can use securities laws to encourage companies to consider climate change impacts and implement measures to adapt to climate change.
A new paper by Katherine Carey looks at the different actions that state utility commissions in the Southeast have taken to ensure that their electric utilities are prepared for tomorrow’s storms.
This working paper reviews SEC actions to date on the issue of climate change disclosure as well as other studies on disclosure rates to assess whether further guidance is warranted. Based on this review, the paper concludes that, both before and after the 2010 interpretive release, disclosure rates and quality amongst companies have been inconsistent. Additionally, although the SEC indicated in its 2010 interpretive release that it would take further actions to monitor disclosure practices and assess whether further guidance is necessary, the paper argues that the agency has largely failed to do so.
- "State Hazard Mitigation Plans & Climate Change: Rating the States," by Matt Babcock (November 2013). Report and Database (Excel).
In accordance with federal law, all states must have an approved statewide hazard mitigation plan in order to receive federal disaster mitigation funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The 50-state survey considers to what extent and in what manner climate change related issues are incorporated into existing plans. All states are cateogorized and ranked.
Given China’s projected growth and its likely continued reliance on coal for the foreseeable future, CCUS may prove a critical strategy for controlling China’s carbon emissions. This paper first collects government policies that impact or support CCUS technology research and project deployment. The paper also summarizes several existing laws that may prove relevant for the regulation of CCUS, in an effort to understand their potential applicability in regulating future CCUS activities. Finally, the paper examines several of the most prominent international collaborative efforts underway in China.
This document is a compilation of international authorities that endorse or require various specific measures to combat climate change. The document comprises a non-exhaustive compilation of extracts from various international agreements, environmental treaties and resolutions / declarations of international organizations, as well as reports from several respected international bodies. While the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and decisions of the Conference of the Parties contain the most authoritative and directly applicable obligations regarding climate change, other international conventions, declarations, agreements and charters also give legal support for some of these specific measures.
China is currently piloting carbon emissions trading schemes in seven provinces and cities as a means to reduce its carbon emissions and realize “green growth.” The hope is that these pilot programs would eventually pave the way to a national carbon trading scheme by 2015-16. This paper closely examines the rules and designs of the seven schemes, and discusses some key challenges to successful implementation and national integration, such as MRV issues and emissions allowance allocation methods.
New energy storage technologies have the potential to fundamentally alter the operation of our electricity system. The emergence of new technologies is matched by an emergence of federal and state regulations, but federal regulations threaten to undermine the successful deployment of storage on the grid. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates the rates, terms, and conditions of interstate transmission and interstate wholesale energy transactions. This article discusses FERC regulations of storage and proposes a way forward for improved regulation.
Climate change will affect important water resources in a vareity of ways. Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) prepared under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) are a prominent venue for discussion of water, impact of federal actions on water resources, and potential impact of changes in water resources on human actions. This white paper and the accompanying database of 149 EISs, issued between January and September 2012, examines the treatment of water-related issues and details the extent to which federal agencies address topics related to water and climate change.
Climate change has the potential to affect the availability and affordability of insurance across most major insurance categories. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) adopted the Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey in 2009, and in February 2012, California, Washington, and New York administered the survey to insurance companies that write in excess of $300 million in premiums annually. This working paper summarizes and analyzes the survey responses that were submitted to California, Washington, and New York in 2012 for the 2011 reporting year. The working paper found that the majority of the 400 survey responses indicated that climate change poses some risk to company business, but most companies did not elaborate on those risks or provide detail on how they plan to cope with them.
In recent years, climate change has become an increasingly prominent subject of discussion in EISs. A comparison of agency approaches to EIS scope and methodology shows widely varying treatment of climate change impacts. Agencies differ in the methods used to calculate emissions and assess their significance. In addition, the types of indirect impacts addressed and the extent to which the impacts of climate change on the project are included vary.
Carbon capture and sequestration technology (CCS) faces a difficult barrier to market entry: liability for the technology’s many long-term risks. This paper’s fifty state survey shows that some state constitutions’ gift clauses prevent indemnification of private CCS developers while other state constitutions allow indemnification. This asymmetry in constitutionally-allowed financial encouragement results in unfair interstate competition and poor incentives for safe site-selection. This paper proposes alternative financing strategies that states can use to close the gap and federal interventions that could level the playing field.
This paper addresses the legal and related political and economic implications for U.S. public and private sector investors, and U.S. CCS technological proprietors, in participating in CCS demonstration projects in China through the provision of investment and technology transfers.
This paper addresses how a federal program to aggregate and potentially guarantee loans made to finance energy efficiency projects can be leveraged to promote best practices on the state and local level for opening up energy efficiency projects to external financing.
This paper proposes that the federal government implement greenhouse gas labeling standards for food and food products sold within the United States. A labeling regime of this sort would shift consumer purchasing from “high emission” to “low emission” foods and encourage consumer awareness that food, like any other commodity, has a GHG “price.”
This paper evaluates whether the issuance REDD offsets is an effective climate change mitigation measure, and provides recommendations on the content of national legislation for REDD offsets.
How viable is a "Cash for Appliances" (CfA) program that targets home appliances toward the goal of increasing energy efficiency and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions? Analyzing an existing CfA effort at the federal level, this paper argues that the case for a federal CfA program is strong, but that the current federal effort falls short of fulfilling its potential.
This paper examines the technical aspects and policy implications of each of four strategies to effectuate environmentally conscious policies in the federal government's food procurement procedures: a litigation strategy, a rulemaking strategy, a NEPA strategy, and a legislative strategy.
As the United States considers unilateral climate change action, uncertainty exists as to the compatibility of the proposed trade related measures to global warming. This paper considers the rationale behind trade measures designed to address competitiveness and carbon leakage, and assesses the WTO legality of the proposed measures in the Waxman-Markey Bill and proposes alternative mechanisms that may yield economically sound solutions while remaining mindful of equitable principles.
This paper argues that compulsory licensing is not the best way to ensure access to environmentally sound technologies for the developing world, and suggests an alternative that may be more sensitive to the voluntary nature of global cooperation on climate change.