A Summary of the Key Activities of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law - Summer/Fall 2020

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Summer/Fall 2020 A Summary of the Key Activities of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

A Summary of the Key Activities of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law


Contents Summary . .

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Projects . . Events . .

Publications .

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Media Mentions and Interviews .

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Earth Institute .

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Who We Are . .

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Since its creation in 2009, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law has been known as a center of expertise, providing timely information and resources on key topics and promoting advances in the interrelated fields of climate law, environmental regulation, energy regulation and natural resources law. The Center’s activities are spearheaded by Michael Gerrard, Faculty Director of the Sabin Center and Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School, and Michael Burger, Executive Director of the Sabin Center and Senior Research Scholar and Lecturerin-Law at Columbia Law School.The core mission of the Sabin Center is to develop and promulgate legal techniques to address climate change, and to train the next generation of lawyers who will be leaders in the field. The Sabin Center is both a partner to and resource for public interest legal institutions engaged in climate change work. Further, the Center addresses a critical need for the systematic development of legal techniques to fight climate change outside of the realm of litigation, and the compilation and dissemination of information for lawyers in the public, private, academic and NGO sectors.


Summer/Fall 2020

Summary The current pandemic crisis has shifted some of the Sabin Center’s work to focus on how COVID19 is affecting climate change and policies to deal with it. Meanwhile, even as the Trump Administration has used the pandemic as a justification to relax the enforcement of environmental laws it has continued to move forward with its deregulatory agenda. The Sabin Center tracks these actions through our online resources and on our Climate Law Blog. More generally, the Sabin Center conducts independent research to produce publications and useful resources; advances new techniques and direct engagement; and partners with agencies, NGOs, and the private sector to promote climate action.

Cross-cutting Issues & Initiatives

Energy Law

Environmental & Land Use Law

International & Foreign Law

A Summary of the Key Activities of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law


Projects The Sabin Center currently focuses its work within four programmatic areas: Cross-cutting Issues & Initiatives, Energy Law, Environmental & Land Use Law, and International & Foreign Law. The Center’s thought leadership and direct engagement operate at the international, national, state and local levels.

Cross-cutting Issues & Initiatives Climate Change Litigation

The Sabin Center tracks, analyzes, and submits amicus briefs in U.S. and global climate change litigation. Talks

• Daniel Metzger presented on litigation risk in the insurance industry at Using hindsight and foresight: Enhancing the insurance industry’s assessment of climate change futures, a webinar hosted by UNEP’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative. • Daniel Metzger spoke on the topic of trends in international climate litigation as a panelist at the 15th International Congress on Environmental Law in Brazil. • Daniel Metzger participated in a panel at the Hawaii Bar Association’s annual conference on the topic of municipal lawsuits against fossil fuel companies and those cases’ national and international context. • Michael Gerrard spoke about the emergence of ethical issues in climate change litigation at a webinar on energy ethics and the law held by the Center for Commercial Law Studies of the University of London. • Michael Gerrard spoke about “Climate Change Litigation in the USA: Moving Beyond Statutes” at a webinar, “Climate Change in the Courts,” held by the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law

• Michael Gerrard spoke about the landscape of U.S. climate change litigation to the International Seminar on Climate Litigation as a Governance Tool held by Duke Kunshan University (China). • Michael Burger spoke at Strategic Climate Litigation: Insights from Global Experience, a London Climate Week event hosted by the London School of Economics. • Michael Burger delivered a keynote on global climate litigation at the Asia Pacific Judicial Conference on Climate Change. Publications

• The Sabin Center and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory launched, ClimateAttribution.org, a database of attribution studies with salience for law, policy and litigation. • The Asia Development Bank published the report series, Climate Change: Coming Soon to a Court Near You. Sabin Center members Michael Burger, Ama Francis and Hillary Aidun, and a number of summer interns, helped develop and author reports on litigation, legislation and climate science. Defending Climate Science


• Romany Webb participated in panel discussions on “Next Steps Where Climate Science, Law and Politics Collide” and “Science Advice in a Biden Presidency,” as part of the SustainWhat webinar series. • Hillary Aidun spoke about opportunities for the Biden Administration on the podcast Sustain What?


Summer/Fall 2020

Cities Climate Law Initiative

This Initiative helps U.S. cities achieve their climate mitigation commitments by addressing critical gaps or obstacles to advancing implementation. Talks

• Amy Turner spoke at numerous events and workshops including: presented for the Rocky Mountain Institute Building Electrification Accelerator about natural gas bans; spoke on “Liveable Cities Climate Pod: Cities and Climate Change” about city climate policy and the COVID-19 pandemic; participated in the ICLEI USA Climate Action Planning Cohort training about city climate law; attended the New York League of Conservation Voters Forum on Reducing Emissions from Buildings about building performance standards and other decarbonization strategies, online; participated in the International Municipal Lawyers Association webinar, Municipal Bans on Natural Gas Hook-Ups; and participated in the Climate Leaders @ Penn-Build Back Better and the Future of Cities event at the University of Pennsylvania. Engagement

• Amy Turner consulted with outside partners and municipalities in New York, Massachusetts and Michigan on building decarbonization strategies. • Amy Turner consulted with five west coast cities on emissions reductions from transportation network company (TNC) vehicles.

Renewable Energy Legal Defense Initiative (RELDI)

The Renewable Energy Legal Defense Initiative (RELDI), a joint project with the law firm of Arnold & Porter, provides pro bono legal representation to community groups and local residents who support renewable energy development in their communities, but are facing opposition. Engagement

• Hillary Aidun represented local residents in two proceedings regarding proposed wind farms: one before the Ohio Power Siting Board in October 2020, and one before the New York State Public Service Commission in December 2020. Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization (LPDD)

The Model Laws for Deep Decarbonization in the United States website, lpdd.org, provides policy makers at the federal, state and local levels with the legal tools needed to transition away from fossil fuels. Talks

• Romany Webb participated in a panel discussion on “Deep Decarbonization: Pro Bono Legislative Drafting Opportunities” hosted by the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. • Michael Gerrard spoke about deep decarbonization at an American Bar Association webinar, “Flattening the Curve – COVID-19 and Climate Change.” • Michael Gerrard spoke to the annual meeting of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy and Resources about deep decarbonization pathways.

A Summary of the Key Activities of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Carbon Dioxide Removal Law

Environmental & Land Use Law

On October 8th, the Sabin Center, in conjunction with the Center on Global Energy Policy, launched the Carbon Dioxide Removal Law Database, CDRLaw.org, an annotated bibliography of legal materials related to carbon dioxide removal and carbon sequestration and use.

Clean Air Act


• Romany Webb presented on “The Law of Enhanced Weathering for Carbon Dioxide Removal” in a webinar hosted by the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy. • Michael Gerrard spoke about U.S. laws governing carbon dioxide removal in the marine environment to a webinar, “Biotic and Abiotic Approaches for Carbon Dioxide Removal in the Marine Environment,” held by the Energy Futures Initiative • Michael Gerrard spoke about legal issues in carbon sequestration at a webinar of the American Bar Association’s Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section. Engagement

• Romany Webb presented on legal issues associated with in-situ and ex-situ carbon mineralization at a workshop on carbon dioxide removal through mineralization, hosted by the Energy Futures Initiative. • The Sabin Center is participating in a four-year study, funded by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, to develop an integrated negative emissions system that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using direct air capture technology and permanently sequesters it in sub-seabed geologic formations.


The Sabin Center has been active in informing and defending EPA’s affirmative regulations, in advocating for more ambitious action and in opposing deregulation by the Trump administration. Engagement

• Hillary Aidun and Michael Burger filed an amicus brief on behalf of local government coalitions in Union of Concerned Scientists v. NHTSA, the challenge to the Trump Administration’s decision revoking California’s authority to set its own motor vehicle emissions standards. Publications

• Michael Burger saw publication of Combating Climate Change with Section 115 of the Clean Air Act: Law and Policy Rationales, by Edward Elgar Publishing.

Energy Law Talks

• Romany Webb moderated a webinar on “Addressing Landowner Concerns in Renewable Energy Siting,” co-hosted by the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources and the Sabin Center. • Romany Webb moderated a webinar on “Managing the Green Energy Transition,” co-hosted by the Sabin Center and Columbia Environmental Law Society. • Romany Webb participated in a panel on “Planning for Resilience in the Energy Sector” as part of North American Smart Energy Week. • Hillary Aidun presented on a panel regarding renewable energy siting in New York State for the New York State Bar Association Environmental and Energy Law Section Fall Meeting.


Summer/Fall 2020

• Michael Gerrard gave the keynote talk at the virtual annual meeting of the Independent Power Producers of New York. He spoke about the role of carbon pricing. Engagement

• Hillary Aidun and Romany Webb submitted comments on the Department of Energy’s proposed revisions to National Environmental Policy Act regulations. • Hillary Aidun filed comments on regulations proposed by the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting on behalf of New Yorkers who want to welcome wind and solar energy projects into their communities. • On June 26, July 29, and October 7, the Sabin Center co-hosted virtual meetings of the International Regulatory Futures Forum, which brings together energy regulators from the U.S., Europe, and Australia to discuss emerging trends in the energy sector, with a particular focus on opportunities and challenges associated with the decarbonization of electricity and gas systems. • The Sabin Center, in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund and the Institute for Policy Integrity, filed comments in support of a New York Public Service Commission proposal to require climate-related risk disclosures by electric and gas utilities.

International & Foreign Law Human Rights and Climate Change

The Sabin Center’s research explores how international human rights law can be used to enhance mitigation ambition and protect people from climate impacts. Talks

• Ama Francis spoke about climate displacement and migration at a number of events and workshops, including ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice’s webinar, “Climate Migration and Displaced People;” the Earth Institute event The Heat is On: The Climate Imperative; the Perry World House event, Climate Migration from SIDS; the Council on Foreign Relations’ 25th Term Member Conference on Climate Migration. • Michael Gerrard gave the keynote talk to a virtual conference, Energy Transitions and Global Crises, organized by several universities in Brazil. • He also spoke on the topic of climate change and the pandemic at a two events: “Legal Environmental Issues in North America During Covid-19,” held by the American Bar Association Commission of Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, and at the International Law Association’s International Law Weekend program. Engagement

• Ama Francis was a member of Columbia’s Committee on Forced Migration member, and organized a panel, “Lawyering for Refugees during COVID-19.” • She also participated in a workshop on sea-level rise and self-determination at the Liechtenstein Institute on SelfDetermination at Princeton University & the Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein.

A Summary of the Key Activities of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law


Events From June 2020–December 2020, the Center sponsored, co-sponsored and participated in numerous events and conferences. Here are some highlights: • Science, Climate Litigation, and the Law, co-sponsored with UCS, the Earth Institute and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund • AGU Town Hall - Climate Science in the Courtroom: How Scientists Can Inform Climate Litigation and the Law.

• New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund Virtual Roundtable: The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act & Offshore Wind Transmission

• New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund 2nd Virtual Roundtable: The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act & Building Emissions

• New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund 3rd Virtual Roundtable: Reducing GHG Emissions from the Transportation Sector


Summer/Fall 2020

Publications The Sabin Center produces papers, surveys and other legal resources, and its members edit and co-author books with other climate law and energy experts from around the globe. Our website at climate.law.columbia.edu contains landing pages for each of our program areas, which include links to relevant projects, publications, and other resources. In addition, the Center publishes the Climate Law Blog and maintains a growing presence on social media, including on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, as well as a YouTube channel. Highlights Books/Book Chapters

• Combating Climate Change with Section 115 of the Clean Air Act: Law and Policy Rationales, edited by Michael Burger, 2020

Law Journal Articles

• When Politics Trump Science: The Erosion of Science-Based Regulation, by Romany Webb, Lauren Kurz, and Susan Rosenthal, 50 ELR 10709, Sept. 2020

• The Perils of Relying on FEMA Flood Maps in Real Estate Transactions, by Michael Gerrard, New York Law Journal, September 2020

• Biden Administration Will Reverse Many Trump Environmental Policies, by Michael Gerrard and Edward McTiernan, New York Law Journal, November 2020. Other Publications

• Climate Risk in the Electricity Sector: Legal Obligations to Advance Climate Resilience Planning by Electric Utilities,

by Romany Webb, Michael Panfil and Sarah Ladin, Dec. 2020 • The Law of Enhanced Weathering for Carbon Dioxide Removal, by Romany Webb, Sept. 2020 • How Agency Science is Under Threat, by Romany Webb, The Environmental Forum, Aug. 2020

• Rebuilding Climate Regulation: What Biden Probably Will (and Will Not) Accomplish, by Daniel J. Metzger, The Bulletin, November 2020 • Climate Reregulation in a Biden Administration, by Hillary Aidun, Susan Biniaz, Michael Burger, Jennifer Danis, Ama Francis, Michael B. Gerrard, Daniel J. Metzger, Amy Turner, Romany Webb, Jessica Wentz, August 2020 • Legal Levers for Cleaner Air in Kolkata: An Assessment of Local Legal Authority,

by Ama Ruth Francis, November 2020

A Summary of the Key Activities of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law • An Environmental Lawyer’s Fraught Quest for Legal Tools to Hold Back the Seas, by Michael Gerrard, Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Fall 2020

• How Biden Can Put the U.S. on a Path to Carbon-Free Electricity by Michael Gerrard,Yale Environment 360, December 3, 2020

Highlights from the Climate Law Blog

• Pipeline Decisions Do Not Spell Doom for Transmission by Hillary Aidun and Michael Burger • Trump v. The Climate, Round Two: What Four More Years of Trump Might Mean for Climate Regulation,

by Daniel Metzger and Romany Webb • California Blackouts Highlight Need to Better Plan for Climate Impacts, by Romany Webb

• EPA Rescinds Methane Standards for Oil and Gas, by Romany Webb • Democratic Climate Plan Centers Equity but Misses the Mark on Climate-Induced Migration by Ama Ruth Francis

• What Biden’s Climate Plans Might Mean for Cities, by Amy Turner • Municipal Natural Gas Bans: Round 2 (The Evolution of State Preemption Law)

by Amy Turner



Summer/Fall 2020

Media Mentions and Interviews Highlights • Seven Ways the Election Will Shape the

• As Climate Disasters Pile Up,

Future of Science, Health and the Environment, Scientific American

a Radical Proposal Gains Traction, The New York Times

In this article, Hillary Aidun comments on the environmental stakes at play in the November 2020 presidential election.

In this article, Michael Gerrard talks about the legal prospects of carbon dioxide removal as a means of atmospheric CO2 reduction.

• Video: Trump’s Widespread and Well-Coordinated War on Science, NowThis News

In this video, Romany Webb talks about the efforts of the Trump administration to muzzle scientific information that we’ve collected in the Silencing Science Tracker. • Australia faces legal challenges over bonds’ climate risks, Financial Times Michael Burger weighs in on the climate risks disclosure lawsuit against the Australian government. • Charleston Aims to Force Fossil Fuel Companies to Pay $2bn to Combat Climate Crisis, The Guardian

Ama Francis is quoted in this article commenting on the litigation involved with Charleston’s lawsuit. • Does Your State Want to Cut Carbon Emissions? These Old Laws Could Be Standing in the Way, Grist

Amy Turner talks about old local laws that could hobble action on climate change in cities. • How Climate Change is Fueling RecordBreaking California Wildfires, Heat and Smog, LA Times

Michael Gerrard is quoted in this article talking about climate change’s connection to this summer’s wildfires in CA.

• Rolling Back Trump’s Rollbacks: Biden Seen Reversing Climate Deregulation, Reuters Michael Burger comments on the Trump Administration’s deregulatory efforts claiming, “nothing Trump has sought to accomplish on climate change is secure.” • Biden Could Roll Back Trump Agenda With Blitz of Executive Actions, The New York Times

Michael Gerrard speaks about the Sabin Center’s Reregulation Report and the ways a Biden admin could use it for climate action. • The Environment Is In Trouble. Here’s What Biden Can Do To Address It., National Geographic

In this article, Michael Burger talks about what executive authority a President Biden could use to protect the environment..

A Summary of the Key Activities of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law


Online Resources

• New York City Climate Law Tracker In July, the Sabin Center launched the New York City Climate Law Tracker. It monitors New York City’s progress in implementing the Climate Mobilization Act, a suite of local laws that were enacted in 2019. The most prominent of these is Local Law 97, which places limits on the amount of greenhouse gases that large buildings may emit.

• New York State Climate Law Tracker In July, the Sabin Center also launched the New York State Climate Law Tracker to monitor New York’s progress in implementing its path-breaking Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, Environmental Justice Law, Community Risk and Resiliency Act, and Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act.

• Climate Attribution Database In November, Michael Burger, Jessica Wentz, and Daniel Metzger, along with our colleague Radley Horton at LDEO launched the Climate Attribution Database. Climate attribution science plays a central role in climate litigation and policymaking. The science is central to legal debates on the causal links between human activities, global climate change, and impacts on human and natural systems.

• Carbon Dioxide Removal Law Database In October, the Sabin Center, in conjunction with the Center on Global Energy Policy, launched the Carbon Dioxide Removal Law Database, an annotated bibliography of legal materials related to carbon dioxide removal and carbon sequestration and use. • Additional Resources Our Climate Litigation databases, Climate Change Laws of the World database, Model Laws for Deep Decarbonization, Silencing Science Tracker, and Climate Deregulation Tracker may all be found at our Resources homepage.


Summer/Fall 2020

Earth Institute The Sabin Center is a member center of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and frequently collaborates with Earth Institute scientists on cutting edge interdisciplinary research. Campus Sustainability and Climate Action

Michael Gerrard has continued his leadership role in the campus-wide Sustainability Initiative, as co-chair on the Senior Advisory Committee, which has launched the effort to come up with a new sustainability plan for the period 2021-2030. The Initiative is now engaged in a comprehensive greenhouse gas master planning effort that will reshape decision-making relating to emissions and energy use on campus. The Sabin Center has also been involved in the many conversations happening around formation of the Climate School at Columbia University. As a member of the Earth Institute’s faculty, Michael Gerrard has been heavily involved in the planning for the Climate School. Michael Burger has participated in preliminary consultations and a number of strategic roundtable discussions. Ama Francis was a member of the planning committee that identified key components needed to launch a major project on Coastal Viability under the Columbia Climate School: Resilient Coastlines Now.

A Summary of the Key Activities of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law


Who We Are

Michael B. Gerrard Faculty Director

Michael Burger Executive Director

Amy Turner Senior Fellow Cities Climate Law Initiative

tel: 212-854-3287 mgerrard@law.columbia.edu

tel: 212-854-2372 mburger@law.columbia.edu

Romany Webb Senior Fellow

Jennifer Danis Senior Fellow

tel: 212-854-0080 rwebb@law.columbia.edu

tel: 212-854-4585 jdanis@law.columbia.edu

Hillary Aidun Climate Law Fellow (2019–21) tel: 212-854-0081 hwa2108@columbia.edu

Ama Francis Climate Law Fellow (2018–21)

Korey Silverman-Roati Climate Law Fellow (2020–22)

Daniel Metzger Climate Law Fellow 2020

tel: 212-854-0106 arf2167@columbia.edu

tel: 520-906-1359 kgs2133@columbia.edu

tel: 212-854-7734 djm2244@law.columbia.edu

Tiffany Challe Communications Associate

Kemi Adetayo Program Coordinator

tel: 212-854-0594 tc2868@columbia.edu

tel: 212-854-8213 aadetayo@law.columbia.edu

tel: 212-854-3268 aturner@law.columbia.edu

W E B . L AW. C O LU M B I A . E D U / C L I M AT E - C H A N G E Columbia Law School Jerome Greene Hall, Room 525 435 West 116th Street New York, New York 10027 tel: 212-854-3287 fax: 212-854-8213

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