Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Michael Gerrard -- Drowning Island Nations: Can International Law Save Them?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum

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"Drowning Island Nations: Can International Law Save Them?," with Michael Gerrard, Esq., Director, Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School.

Abstract: Several island nations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and Caribbean Sea are endangered by sea level rise and may become uninhabitable by the end of the century. International climate agreements have failed to stem greenhouse gas emissions, and two of these nations are seeking redress from the International Court of Justice. This talk will address the plight of these nations; the implications that rising seas have for their continuation as states; where the displaced people would likely go, and their legal status in their new homes; the status of efforts to control climate change and future legal approaches. Special attention will be devoted to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which is struggling to cope both with rising seas and with the legacy of U.S. nuclear weapons testing. 

Biography: A world-renowned expert, Michael Gerrard has practiced environmental law since 1979. He has written or edited seven books in the field, two of which were named best law book of the year. His most recent books are the second edition of The Law of Environmental Justice and Global Climate Change and U.S. Law. He is now completing an edited volume entitled Threatened Island Nations: Legal Implications of Rising Seas and a Changing Climate, growing out of a major conference hosted at Columbia in 2011. Gerrard has an almost unique ability to bridge the public interest and corporate worlds. His law practice has largely involved helping large corporations and real estate developers comply with, and in many cases surpass, the requirements of the environmental laws. But he is so highly regarded by the environmental community that he was one of the two winners of the 2007 Advocate Award from Environmental Advocates of New York.

Sponsored by the Environmental Change Initiative.

Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street.