At the year's end, we're looking back on a highly productive 2019 packed with events, new research, student achievements, and more. We look forward to building on this important work in the coming decade. We hope you'll join us in supporting these efforts - and it's not too late to make a year-end donation to support our students and research.

Sean Hecht , co-executive director, Emmett Institute at UCLA Law

Header photo credit: Nurit Katz

Our faculty and students participated in climate talks in Madrid last week, advancing subnational climate initiatives and tracking the representation of vulnerable communities in the negotiations process. 

A UCLA Newsroom article today describes the COP25 activities of Cara Horowitz , our co-executive director, Ted Parson , our faculty co-director and Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law; Emmett/Frankel Fellow Siyi Shen ; Professor of Law Alex Wang ; and students Tom Callahan '21 , Divya Rao '20 , and Idalmis Vaquero '21 .

During and after the talks, our faculty and fellows shared insights on our blog, Legal Planet. Horowitz described how youth energy injected vitality into the talks; Vaquero highlighted young advocates calling for more inclusive and culturally responsive negotiations; Callahan discussed the need for ambition at every level of climate decision-making; Parson shared personal reactions to the failure of the talks and a broader response to the year's biggest questions on the science and politics of global warming; and Rao reflected on corporate accountability.

With California lawmakers seeking measures to address greenhouse gas pollution from vehicles, toxic chemicals in drinking water, and other urgent environmental issues, UCLA students contributed research and policy ideas this fall through our new California Environmental Legislation and Policy Clinic .

Led by Supervising Attorney and Project Director Julia Stein and Professor of Law Jonathan Zasloff , the clinic’s 10 students worked with elected state officials and their staffs over the course of the semester to develop solutions for several of the state’s environmental policy priorities. Read a UCLA Newsroom article introducing the clinic and students' work.

Photo credit: Daniel Melling

Emmett Institute faculty published several publications and comment letters in the last month:

  • Los Angeles’s Transit-Oriented Communities Program: Challenges and Opportunities: In a Pritzker Brief, Julia Stein explores potential constraints on the City of Los Angeles' Transit-Oriented Communities Program, a zoning program that promote increased housing density close to mass transit options like bus and rail. The program has been a major driver of affordable housing production in L.A. since its adoption in late 2017, but certain structural and legal constraints may be impeding its full capacity to augment affordable housing supply.

  • California Climate Risk: Insurance-Based Approaches to Mitigation and Resilience: In a synthesis paper, Sean Hecht and Ted Lamm, research fellow at Berkeley Law's Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, summarize findings from a 2019 summer symposium on how to engage the insurance sector in addressing climate risks facing California. The paper adds new material and analysis from the authors reflecting recent developments in the field.

  • Comment Letter Supporting Buffer Around Oil and Gas Operations in Los Angeles: Sean Hecht, Evan Frankel Professor of Policy and Practice and our co-executive director, and Shapiro Fellow Benjamin Harris of the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic submitted comments on behalf of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust to the Los Angeles City Attorney, conveying support for an ordinance establishing a health and safety buffer around oil and gas operations in the City of Los Angeles.

  • Comment Letter Opposing EPA Proposal to Weaken Methane Rule: Sean Hecht and Emmett/Frankel Fellow Harjot Kaur submitted comments to EPA opposing the agency's proposal to significantly narrow the reach of the Clean Air Act’s ability to regulate key pollutants from stationary sources in the oil and natural gas industry.
Announcing our spring 2020 events

This spring, Emmett Institute faculty will moderate four lunchtime discussions that are open to our community:

  • On February 18, Emmett Climate Engineering Fellow Holly Buck will discuss her new book, After Geoengineering, which outlines the kind of social transformation that will be necessary to repair our relationship to the earth. Details/RSVP.

  • On March 16, Harvard Law professor Richard Lazarus will share insights from his book The Rule of Five: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court, which reveals the personal dynamics of the justices and dramatizes the workings of the Court during the Massachusetts v. EPA arguments. Details/RSVP.

  • On April 1, Texas Law professor Thomas McGarity will examine the progress made and the lesson learned as we seek to build a more sustainable electricity grid that also attends to the economic dislocations caused by the clean energy transition. McGarity's new book is Pollution, Politics, and Power: The Struggle for Sustainable Electricity. Details/RSVP.

  • And on April 20, Tom Cormons '06, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices, will discuss his work protecting the land, air, and water of Central and Southern Appalachia and advancing a just transition to a generative and equitable clean energy economy. Details/RSVP.

See our events page (and event listings below) for more details.
December trivia corner

International climate negotiations last week over the Paris Agreement included participation by a delegation from the United States, which has not yet withdrawn from that international instrument. 

What is the earliest month in which the U.S. may officially withdraw from the Paris Agreement? 

Please send responses to Daniel Melling, to win an Emmett Institute notebook!

Our previous trivia question asked, "What are the two largest contributors to sea-level rise today?" The answer: thermal expansion and melting of land-based ice, such as glaciers and ice sheets.

Photo credit: Idalmis Vaquero '21
Sharing insights on our blog

Our faculty and fellows published more than 100 blog posts on Legal Planet this year. Thank you to our readers! Highlights from the last month:

  • Ann Carlson considered how Justice Brett Kavanaugh could use the major questions doctrine or the non-delegation doctrine to scrap greenhouse gas regulations.
  • Benjamin Harris examined how new revenue from Los Angeles' Measure W taxes, levied for the first time this month, could support a resilient local water supply.
  • Emmett/Frankel Fellow Jesse Reynolds dissected a New York Times editorial contrasting the Montreal Protocol with our response to climate change
  • Harjot Kaur described a "brazen" rollback of methane regulations, introducing her comment letter to EPA on its proposed methane rule
  • Emmett Climate Engineering Fellow Charles Corbett looked into mega-adaptation projects in Antarctica that could slow the rise of global sea levels

If you don't yet subscribe to Legal Planet, do so here for daily blog post updates.
Daniel Melling writes the Emmett Institute newsletter with editing from Sean Hecht and Cara Horowitz. Please send any feedback to .
About the Emmett Institute at UCLA School of Law
The Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment is the country's leading law school center focused on climate change and other critical environmental issues. Founded in 2008 with a generous gift from Dan A. Emmett and his family, the Institute works across disciplines to develop and promote research and policy tools useful to decision makers locally, statewide, nationally and beyond. Our Institute serves as a premier source of environmental legal scholarship, nonpartisan expertise, policy analysis and training.   Learn more.