Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Climate Solutions Lab

Climate Change Law and Policy

Columbia Law School


Spring 2020

Prof. Michael Gerrard


Documentary Video / Films,Readings from Underrepresented groups

This course begins with an overview of the causes and effects of global climate change and the methods available to control and adapt to it. We will then examine the negotiation, implementation and current status of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement. In the context of an administration that has expressed skepticism about climate change and is working to repeal many of the greenhouse gas regulations adopted during the Obama administration, the focus will then turn to the past and proposed actions of the U.S. Congress, the executive branch and the courts, as well as regional, state and municipal efforts. The Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act will receive special attention, as will the authority of the administration to reverse prior policy, and the legal modes available for resistance. We will evaluate the various legal tools that are available to address climate change, including cap-and-trade schemes; carbon taxation; command-and-control regulation; litigation; and securities disclosures. The roles of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, carbon capture and sequestration, and forestry and agriculture will each receive close attention. Implications for international human rights, international trade, environmental justice, and international and intergenerational equity will be discussed. The course will conclude with examination of proposals for adaptation and geoengineering.