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This course is a general introduction to the body of domestic and international law developing daily to grapple with catastrophic anthropogenic climate change. The course is practice-oriented, and includes simulated climate treaty negotiations and litigation of a climate change-related case. Several practitioners of climate change law and a practicing climate scientist will join us as guest speakers.
The course begins with a general overview of current climate science, and the policy, economics, and legal framework of the law of climate change. The next module covers an introduction to international environmental law, including the climate treaties and current negotiations. We will explore the international human rights to a clean environment and stable climate, and the attempts to locate and enforce these rights in international and U.S. law. Turning to domestic law we will examine the sources of law that govern the principal sources of greenhouse gases, both federal judicial and administrative law. Our exploration begins with the Clean Air Act, public nuisance theory, and current litigation concerning transportation and energy generation, two of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The course will then turn to regional, state and local initiatives to mitigation of and adaptation to the effects of climate change.