Fall 2014
    Law No.: LAW7049
    Sched. No.: 114821449

Foundations of Climate Change Law and Policy
Section 1
Johnston, Jason S.

Administrative Information:
During SIS enrollment, check on SIS for real-time enrollment numbers
Days, Times (Room):TR, 1130-1250 (WB104)
Capacity:44 **This information is current as of 07/30/2014 06:12:56 AM**
Current Enrollment:8 **This information is current as of 07/30/2014 06:12:56 AM**

Course Description:

This course is a critical introduction to the law, economics and science of climate change policy. The course begins by overviewing the findings and methods of climate science with a particular emphasis on the study of climate change. This part of the course is designed for students to gain an understanding of what is known and not known in climate science, the reasons why many climate scientists believe that there has been large human contribution to climate change since 1850, and the reasons why there is so much uncertainty in projections of future climate change. From this part of the course, students should learn how about basic rhetorical strategies in science, and how to critically analyze scientific arguments that are applied in policy, and also gain an understanding of the fundamental distinction between explanation of past behavior and prediction of the future behavior of complex systems such as the earth’s climate system. We will also discuss more general issues regarding science-based policy, such as the optimal degree of deference to scientific experts, and the meaning and significance of “consensus” in science.

After the science, we move to the economics of climate change. We will focus on 1) recent developments in the economic analysis of the costs and benefits of costly precautions to lower the risk of far distant and highly uncertain but potentially catastrophic events, and 2) the choice between future adaptation to versus present day precautions against such events. We will also take a sustained and critical look at the energy economics modeling that is crucial in climate change policy. Following the scientific and economic review, we are in a position to identify both what is known and what is uncertain in a fundamental, “Knightian” sense about the possible costs and benefits from global warming.

After the review of the economics and science of climate change, the course turns to law and policy. This part of the course covers the recent greenhouse gas regulations proposed or finalized by the U.S. E.P.A. under the Clean Air Act, but also the way climate change has affected regulation under NEPA, and the Endangered Species Act. In addition, we discuss the global warming public nuisance lawsuits. This part of the course will essentially be an exercise in learning and applying techniques of statutory interpretation, but it will also expose students to the way that regulatory science is reviewed by courts. Next, we apply models from political economy to explain patterns of Congressional voting on climate change legislation that has been introduced over the past several decades, and, more briefly, the evolution of the international climate change regulatory regime. The course grade will be based 80 per cent on a closed-book in-class examination and 20 per cent on class participation.

NOTE: Laptops are not allowed during class sessions.

COURSE REQUIREMENT: Examination and class participation