Climate Change and Clean Energy Capstone – 6408
This course will provide an overview of the emerging law and policy on climate change and clean energy both through studying major developments and through working on cutting-edge projects with nongovernmental organizations and/or governments. The course will begin by considering the scientific issues and policy debates that frame the legal conversation. It will next turn to the international climate change law. It will consider the existing treaty regime and its limitations, and international-level efforts beyond the framework established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to address the problem of climate change. The course will then focus on national efforts to address climate change and to support the transition to more sustainable energy choices. It will examine U.S. federal climate change and clean energy law and policy, and compare that law and policy with efforts by other developed and developing major emitters around the world. The course will next examine key actors beyond the nation-state, including state and local efforts to address climate change in countries around the world, as well as corporate, nongovernmental organization, and individual action. The course will conclude by considering the future of climate change law and policy, and the different possible paths (geoengineering, massive adaptation, or adequate mitigation and more limited adaptation) and what it would take to achieve greater sustainability. This substantive overview will be paired with group projects on a variety of pressing climate change issues at different levels of government that will allow students to engage what making progress in this area means in practice. Each class session will be divided between discussing that day’s topics and learning from our class projects.
Grades will be based on students’ written and editorial work regarding the class project (90%), oral presentations (5%), and class participation (5%). This course will meet the senior writing requirement and will provide opportunities for interaction with leading practitioners and policymakers through the projects and guest lectures. The course is designed to complement, but not overlap substantially with, Professor Osofsky’s renewable energy course and does not require prior knowledge of environmental or energy law.