The Emmett Center promotes innovative climate change scholarship and teaching.
Our seminar on Climate Change Law and Policy, taught on a rotating basis by faculty including Professors Ann Carlson, Cara Horowitz, and Sean Hecht, gives students an opportunity to explore and conduct original research on cutting-edge issues relating to our changing climate.
Our environmental law clinical class, the Wells Clinic, engages students in real-world climate advocacy on behalf of clients. Recent Wells Clinic work on climate change includes:
Working with the Center for Biological Diversity to craft comments responding to the Environmental Protection Agency's recent proposed rule delaying regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Assisting the Natural Resources Defense Council with analyzing the ways in which the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act must incorporate climate change considerations.
Helping Friends of the Earth/Bluewater Network to understand the legal implications of federal agencies' refusal to modify Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards to reflect actual fuel efficiency of automobiles.
UCLA School of Law faculty regularly give conference presentations about climate change.
Recent UCLA School of Law faculty research on climate change
I do not claim that the nuisance system is superior to
legislation, but rather that it is a reasonable substitute in the
absence of political action.
Professor Jonathan Zasloff argues that, while hardly perfect, nuisance litigation could form a reasonable basis for climate change regulation, at least as much as some of the other imperfect alternatives so far proposed. According to Prof. Zasloff, this nuisance system has promise because it essentially becomes a carbon tax-precisely the policy instrument that many economists say is the best form of regulation but is routinely dismissed as politically unfeasible. The difference is that it is judicially, not legislatively, imposed.
The most innovative state responses to climate change are neither the product of state regulation alone nor are they exclusively the result of federal action. Instead, such regulations are the re- sults of repeated, sustained, and dynamic lawmaking efforts involving both levels of government—what I term "iterative federalism."
Professor Ann E. Carlson explores the interplay between state and federal climate change regulation, noting that two of the most significant state initiatives—California's greenhouse gas mobile source emissions standards and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative—would not have occurred but for the backdrop of federal law. She uses her idea of "iterative federalism" to describe this interplay, and demonstrates that iterative federalism has proven successful at addressing regulatory pitfalls and at fostering innovative leadership among states.
Professor Ann Carlson provides a case study of the country's largest municipally owned utility-the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP)-and the challenges it will face in holding its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The case study is particularly useful to anticipate challenges utilities across the country will face if the federal government also mandates greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The challenges are daunting. They include shifting rapidly to renewable energy sources in the face of labor pressures to have DWP own its own sources; building miles of transmission lines to bring the renewable energy to DWP's customer base; repowering natural gas facilities while attempting to comply with stringent Clean Water Act requirements; and eliminating the utility's reliance on coal over the next two decades. These efforts will raise complex environmental and other value clashes, pitting those concerned about jobs, water pollution, species protection, and aesthetic harms against a utility admirably committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions significantly.
If our society is to survive climate change without significant human costs, we must develop robust institutions and practices to manage these risks. The insurance industry is our society’s primary financial risk manager and needs to play a leading role in developing these institutions and practices.
UCLA Environmental Law Center Executive Director Sean Hecht evaluates the role the insurance industry's products might play in addressing climate change. The article examines the incentives that insurance products provide to influence the climate change-mitigating and adaptive capacity-building behavior of policyholders and other actors, the reasons that insurers might or might not choose to provide those products and the reasons individuals and businesses may or may not choose to purchase those products, and the extent to which the insurance industry's products are likely to play a significant and effective role in affecting private actors' responses to climate change.
We propose an international climate architecture that builds on such public support — which we hope will be forthcoming — and uses multilateral international institutions to extend its effects to countries without such "green" publics.
In this discussion paper, Professor Kal Raustiala and his co-author, Robert Keohane, discuss the need for any international agreement to address climate change to rest on broad public support in developed nations for mitigation actions. They observe that a successful climate change regime must secure sufficient participation, achieve agreement on meaningful rules, and establish mechanisms for compliance, all while navigating a political environment of sovereign states with differing preferences and capabilities.