Course - Law
Recommended Courses:  

Climate change is widely considered the defining environmental law and policy challenge of the 21st century and one of its most dynamic.  The development of climate change law and policy is not only moving at breakneck speed, but is occurring at multiple scales – global, national, state, local –and in multiple venues (international treaty negotiations, U.S. courts, Congress, statehouses and municipalities) simultaneously. For example, in December, 192 nations will convene in Copenhagen for two weeks of talks aimed at establishing a new global treaty on climate change.  In the meantime, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently ruled that the tort action filed by several U.S. states and land trusts against six major carbon dioxide emitters -- electricity producers—could proceed to trial.  This decision preceded by days the release of an 821-page climate bill by the Senate Environment Committee, a companion to the House bill introduced just a few months earlier.  At the U.S. regional level, the northeastern states’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first domestic carbon cap and trade regime, just completed its fifth auction of carbon credits. 


This class will introduce students to the legal response to global climate change, from the international response to the domestic and including the interactions and relationships between the multiple scales and institutions involved in climate change regulation.  A particular focus will be the scale at which a mitigation or adaptation response is being initiated and the impact of regulation at one scale (e.g., the domestic state level) upon regulation at another scale (e.g., the national scale).  Another focus will be upon the method of regulation chosen with a particular emphasis upon “cap and trade”, the advantages, perils and pitfalls of trading regimes and the particular challenges posed by the linking of multiple trading regimes at the domestic and global levels.


Topics will include an overview of the causes and effects of global climate change and the methods available to control and adapt to it. We will then turn to the negotiation, implementation and current status of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the December 2009 Copenhagen negotiations. 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 will receive special attention.  Implications for international human rights, international trade, environmental justice, and international and intergenerational equity will be discussed.


Finally, the course will attempt to take advantage of the many experts on climate change at the University of Arizona and elsewhere by scheduling guest lectures as well as guest appearances through web-based videolinks. 



Readings will consist of cases and articles posted on the class on-line forum.

Course Format

Lecture and discussion.

Written Assignments  
Type of Exam  
Basis for grading

Students' final grade will be based upon their completion of short writing assignments during the semester and either a final written exam or a research paper.  Students' final grade will also reflect student class participation.

Additional Comments

Credits:  2 (3 if the student uses the course to fulfill his/her substantial paper requirement).

Print this Course Description