We're off to a racing start in 2020 with a new amicus brief on California laws governing greenhouse gas emissions associated with large development projects, 10 courses and seminars this semester, and a slate of exciting talks on campus (and a symposium on human rights and the climate crisis) where we hope to see many of you. More below.

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

Photo credit: Daniel Melling

Emmett Institute co-executive director Cara Horowitz and supervising attorney Julia Stein filed an amicus brief to the Court of Appeal of the State of California in a case concerning how agencies should analyze and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions associated with large development projects. 

The authors argue the environmental impact report for a major warehouse project in Moreno Valley includes analysis of greenhouse gas impacts that misapprehends the state’s cap-and-trade program and misinforms the public and decision makers about the true significance of the project’s emissions.

The analysis, if endorsed, would undermine California’s ability to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals and would upend settled California Environmental Quality Act precedent about the role state-level regulation should play in assessing project impacts.

The brief was filed on behalf of amici California CEQA and climate policy experts: Ken Alex , director, Project Climate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment, and former senior policy advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown; Dallas Burtraw , Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future; Ann Carlson , Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law, UCLA Law, and Emmett Institute faculty co-director; Fran Pavley , former California State Senator and Assemblymember and principal author of AB32; and Michael Wara , s enior research scholar, Woods Institute for the Environment, and director, Stanford Law's Climate and Energy Policy Program. 

UCLA Law students Shalaka Phadnis, LL.M. '19 , and Emily Warfield '20 contributed to the drafting of the brief through the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic.

Photo credit: NREL, Flickr

Emmett Institute faculty reacted to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' dismissal of Juliana v. U.S., the landmark lawsuit by youth plaintiffs against the federal government.

In a blog post , Ann Carlson argues the dismissal could be interpreted as a victory, by avoiding the risk of a potential U.S. Supreme Court decision using the case to attack the standing portion of Massachusetts v. EPA. Carlson spoke about the case with the New York Times , E&E News , Bloomberg Law , and Mashable .

Cara Horowitz told AP the ruling was "heartbreaking" and that in its decision, "the 9th Circuit recognizes that climate change is an existential threat … and agrees that the political branches have not done enough to address this problem in the past and are unlikely to do so in the future.”

Photo credit: Peg Hunter, Flickr

At Human Rights and the Climate Crisis , a conference at UCLA Law on February 28, leading lawyers, scholars, and activists will examine the potential of rights-based arguments to halt and seek remedy for environmental harms, with a focus on climate change.

Kumi Naidoo , former Executive Director, Greenpeace and Secretary General, Amnesty International, and Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres , General Coordinator, Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, will deliver keynote addresses. Ann Carlson will join speakers in the opening panel to assess rights-based arguments in recent U.S. litigation; Cara Horowitz will moderate.

The event is sponsored by UCLA's Promise Institute for Human Rights , Emmett Institute, and Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs .
Join our Environmental Law lunchtime discussion series

Registration is now open for our lunchtime discussions at UCLA Law this spring:

  • 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 February 26, a panel of leading practitioners in renewable energy project finance and development, including UCLA Law alumni Ed Feo '77, Chris Kolosov '09, Sarah Kozal '16, and Ed Zaelke '83, will discuss the state of the field and career pathways for J.D. graduates. Students please RSVP via MyLaw.

  • 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.

  • 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.
Welcome back students!

This spring semester, Emmett Institute faculty members are teaching six courses at UCLA Law that meet requirements for our specialization in environmental law:

  • Land Use and Urban Planning Law (Law 286), Professor of Law Jonathan Zasloff
  • International Environmental Law and Policy (Law 438), Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law Ted Parson
  • Regulation of the Business Firm: Theory and Practice (Law 560), Professor of Law Timothy Malloy
  • Climate Change Law and Policy (Law 591), Cara Horowitz and Emmett/Frankel Fellow Harjot Kaur
  • Water Law (Law 692), Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law James Salzman
  • Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic (Law 719), Evan Frankel Professor of Policy and Practice Sean Hecht and Shapiro Fellow Benjamin Harris

Our faculty members are also leading four seminars for first-year students , on energy law and regulation; environmental law and regulatory lawyering; China and the environment; and the past and future of the American city.

Photo credit: Daniel Melling

Ann Carlson contributed to an annual report of California's Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee , an appointed panel of experts tasked with assessing the state's climate policies, and reporting to California Air Resources Board and the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change.

The authors recommend the state focuses on transportation, affordability, allowance banking, allowance supply, and the effects of overlapping policies in the regional electricity market.

Carlson serves as the committee's vice chair and as the Speaker of the Assembly’s appointee. Other committee members, and contributors to the report, include Dallas Burtraw, Resources for the Future (chair); Danny Cullenward, Near Zero and Stanford Law School; and Meredith Fowlie, UC Berkeley.

Photo credit: 305 Seahill, Flickr
January trivia corner

We've had some cool weather in Westwood this month, but not so frigid as the year(s) UCLA saw enough snow for a snowball fight on Royce quad?

What year(s) did it snow on UCLA's campus?

Send responses to Daniel Melling,  melling@law.ucla.edu  to win an Emmett Institute notebook!

Our last trivia question asked: what is the earliest month in which the U.S. may officially withdraw from the Paris Agreement? Answer: November 2020. A correct response was submitted by frequent trivia contestant (and winner) Eric Sezgen '19.

Photo credit: UCLA Newsroom
Legal Planet latest

Subscribe to our blog here to receive regular posts on climate and environmental law and policy from UCLA Law and Berkeley Law faculty . Recent highlights:

  • Professor Alex Wang reviews China's mixed signals on climate action.
  • Emmett Climate Engineering Fellow Charles Corbett assesses artificial ocean alkalinization, a proposed method for countering acidification and increasing ocean carbon uptake.
  • Emmett/Frankel Fellow Jesse Reynolds analyzes the Urgenda ruling in the Supreme Court of the Netherlands; and makes the case for increasing investment in zero-carbon energy, adaptation, and solar geoengineering research.
  • Shapiro Fellow Benjamin Harris shares a Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic letter to Los Angeles city leaders advocating for a 2,500-foot health and safety buffer for oil and gas operations.
  • UCLA Law student Divya Rao '20 describes the lack of accountability for Toyota and other corporations undermining climate action.
  • Communications manager Daniel Melling describes how a City of Los Angeles street-lighting design competition could help reduce vehicle pollution by improving conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit users.

Photo credit: Daniel Melling

Emmett Institute faculty are organizing and participating in events and talks over the next few months:

Hong Kong 2020: Perspectives on an Ongoing Crisis
February 3, 2020 | UCLA School of Law
Alex Wang will moderate a panel of experts in history, political science, journalism, and law discussing the Hong Kong protests. Details/RSVP.
February 5, 2020 | Stanford Law School
Sean Hecht will speak on sea-level rise impacts on real estate at an annual conference from Stanford Professionals in Real Estate (SPIRE) and the California Lawyers Association's Real Property Law Section.  Details/RSVP.

Climate Change Technologies: Social and Political Perspectives Workshop
March 12-13, 2020 | UCSD Institute for Practical Ethics
Holly Buck will deliver a keynote address at a workshop addressing social and political questions arising from the application of new technologies to address climate change. Details.
2020 Natural Capital Symposium
March 16-18, 2020 | Stanford University 
Jim Salzman will give a keynote presentation at an event advancing the science and practice of incorporating nature’s diverse values into decisions . Details/RSVP.

Clean Air for All: 50 Years of the Clean Air Act
March 31, 2020 | Washington, D.C.
Ann Carlson will speak at a conference celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Clean Air Act, hosted by the American Lung Association, the American University Center for Environmental Policy, and the American University Center for Environmental Filmmaking Details.
Community Climate Interventions Strategies Workshop: The Future of Research
April 15–17, 2020 | National Center for Atmospheric Research / University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO
Holly Buck and Jesse Reynolds will speak. Details.

April 20-21, 2020 | San Francisco, CA
Sean Hecht will speak at an EUCI conference for utility professionals on how the industry can respond to wildfire risk.  Details/RSVP.

Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force 2020 Annual Meeting
May 5-7, 2020 | Manaus, Brazil
William Boyd will lead this annual meeting of a subnational collaboration of 38 states and provinces working to protect tropical forests, reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and promote rural development. Details/RSVP.

Photo credit: Daniel Melling
Daniel Melling writes the Emmett Institute newsletter with editing from Sean Hecht and Cara Horowitz. Please send any feedback to melling@law.ucla.edu .
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.