Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Climate Solutions Lab

Environmental and Climate Litigation: China, U.S., the World

University of Maine


Spring 2020

Prof. Jeffrey Thaler


Readings from Underrepresented groups

In this course, you will get to think out of the usual legal boxes, as lawyers and future lawyers have a great opportunity to create new caselaw and remedies for one of the major issues facing the world. Our modern civilization increasingly is dependent upon energy, yet over 80% of the energy consumed in the U.S. and world is from fossil fuels—which account for the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions that are the primary cause of climate change. Climate change has become the subject of major economic, political and scientific concern and debate, with direct impact upon energy law and policy—as well as growing economic, health and social impacts in Maine, the U.S., and globally. Which is creating growing opportunities for work for attorneys and those trained in the law and litigation. This course will provide you with a practical understanding of issues that will fundamentally shape their personal and professional futures regardless of their ultimate fields of pursuit, in Maine or wherever they may live and work.

In this short course, you will be introduced to what some other countries—especially major players like China and Russia-- are doing with respect to climate and energy issues, in comparison with our own. The materials and issues are very current. Additionally, you will have two special opportunities: a) in one class, we will do a video call with a Shanghai environmental attorney who has also studied at Vermont Law School; and b) those students who are interested may be able to connect via email with some of Prof. Thaler’s Fall 2019 students at Duke Kunshan University in China, to ask questions about policies or other topics there.