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RSVP6 people are attending


April 11, 2019 at 4:00pm to April 12, 2019 at 5:30pm


University of Michigan
701 S State St
McDowell Room, Jeffries Hall 1225
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States


David M. Uhlmann

THE SEVENTH ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE presented by Michigan Law’s Environmental Law and Policy Program, co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Society and the Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law. During past conferences, we have featured panel discussions on climate change as part of broader discussions about environmental law and policy. With climate change accelerating and the window for climate change mitigation and adaptation narrowing, this year we will devote our entire conference to how the legal system can promote meaningful action on climate change and broad-based environmental sustainability efforts.

We gather at a time of great urgency: the most recent climate change assessments warn that we have just over a decade to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions or face catastrophic climate change as early as the second half of the 21st century. As climate changes becomes ever more ominous, our national government has abandoned the crisis, refusing to recognize that climate change exists and failing to provide any semblance of international or domestic leadership to combat climate change.

A new generation of leadership is emerging in the United States, however, proposing a Green New Deal that seeks dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and infrastructure investments to make significant climate action possible, alongside a range of other policy goals. At the same time, state and local governments, joined by a growing segment of the business community, are making climate change and sustainability efforts a central part of their near term planning efforts, which together offer the hope of the kind of grassroots efforts that can lead to meaningful societal action.

Jonathan Overpeck, the inaugural dean of the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, will speak for the first time at the law school to put our climate challenges in context. Dr. Overpeck will review the most recent scientific assessments and climate modeling and explain what they reveal about climate change that already is occurring and what they demand in terms of climate change mitigation and resiliency efforts.

The first Friday morning panel will focus on international climate change efforts and the future of the Paris Accord and how we build on that landmark agreement to provide sharper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the technology transfers that will be needed to promote clean energy in the developing world, even as the future of American involvement remains uncertain. Our second panel discussion will focus on national climate change efforts in the United States including Clean Air Act regulations, the likely outcome of the Juliana atmospheric public trust case now pending in the 9th Circuit, and the extent to which climate change will be on the ballot in 2020 and whether comprehensive climate change legislation finally may occur in 2021.

During lunch, there will be two breakout discussions: one focusing on energy policy and the other on food and water. In this sessions, we will consider how to leverage market forces that are making widespread use of renewable energy possible and how to rethink our food and water policy to reduce climate change impacts and account for the challenges that climate change will create.

The afternoon will begin with a panel discussion on state and local climate action, which today is where nearly all American legislative action is taking place, and consider the question of how to leverage that change into national action with or without the federal government. We will conclude with a panel discussion on private governance and corporate sustainability programs, which in the last two years have helped fill the gap created by the absence of federal government leadership.

See Schedule of Speakers


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