The Connecticut Law Review Symposium was co-hosted by the Center for Energy & Environmental Law at UConn Law School, the US Embassy in Brazil, and the Human Rights Clinic at Catholic University of Paraná.
Transitions to more sustainable energy practices must be intentional and thoughtful to ensure they are fair and equitable, even for the communities most threatened by climate change, panelists said. It was agreed at a symposium held by the Law Review.
The symposium, entitled Climate and Environmental Justice in the 21st Century: A Just Transition, was held online on October 21, 2022, in person in the reading room of the William F. Starr Hall. The Connecticut Law Review hosted the event and was co-hosted by the Center for Energy & Environmental Law at UConn Law School, the US Embassy in Brazil and the Human Rights Clinic at Paraná College.
In his opening remarks, Vice Dean Richard Wilson noted the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for academics, practitioners and students to advance research and policy on pressing concerns.
“I applaud the decision to focus on the climate emergency and to try to identify ways in which legislation can facilitate and facilitate the transition to sustainable energy practices,” said Wilson. “There are few issues more important than the existence of life as we know it on this fragile planet.”
Michael Fitzpatrick, Google’s Director of Innovation for Global Strategy and Global Affairs, delivered the keynote address and joined in a discussion with Professor Joseph McDougald, Executive Director of the Center for Energy & Environmental Law. With extensive corporate and government experience in environmental and regulatory law, Fitzpatrick provided a nuanced view of the changing relationship between technology and humans and how it might affect solving the climate problem.
“Climate change is a pervasive threat to humanity, a change taking place on our planet, and we must forge our own path,” Fitzpatrick said. And while it has the potential to solve some of our greatest challenges as a society, we are fully aware of the challenges and risks that come with it, as well as the negative externalities that arise from scaled technology.”
The first panel discussion, moderated by Paschaline Nsiah-Asare LLM ’17, a research expert at the Center for Energy and Environmental Law, explored what a just transition looks like globally and promoting a just transition. We discussed the legal structures and tools that the law can rely on to help. Respond to climate emergencies.
A panelist offering a variety of perspectives was Owen McIntyre, Professor of Law, University College Cork, Ireland. Wyatt Sussman, Professor of Environmental Law, Sturm College of Law, University of Denver. and South African human rights lawyer and social justice activist Pouben Moodley. Moodley leads Natural Justice, a team of lawyers specializing in human rights and environmental law.
The second panel focused on the workforce transition in energy communities traditionally dependent on fossil fuels and the obligations companies must fulfill to support the transition to more sustainable practices. McDougald moderated a discussion that included Katrina Fisher-Koo, Haub Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law at Pace Law School. Stephen Park, Associate Professor of Commercial Law and Satel Fellow of Corporate Social Responsibility at UConn Business School. Aisha Saad, Earl B. Dickerson Fellow at the University of Chicago School of Law. Daniel Pamplona, Professor of Law at the University of Pontificia Catolica do Parana, Brazil. and Daniela Moreira, professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and academic coordinator of the Specialized Course in Environmental Law.
The symposium concluded with a third panel moderated by Louanne Cooley, a legal fellow at the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation, who holds a Juris Doctor degree and is currently pursuing an LLM at UConn Law. The panel explored efforts in Connecticut to address the energy transition, with a focus on the Climate and Community Investment Act of 2021.
Panelists included Katie Dykes, Connecticut’s Energy and Environmental Commissioner. Leticia Colon de Mejias, Founder and CEO of Energy Efficiencies Solutions. Jim O’Donnell, Professor of Marine Science at UConn. Tabitha Sukedeo is a joint degree holder from the Yale School of the Environment and the University of Vermont Law School, whose focus is refugee resettlement and climate change.
“The symposium was a success, bringing together a diverse range of practitioners and academics to discuss various aspects of promoting a just transition,” said Ali Nikolay, Associate Member of the Connecticut Law Review. says. “As a law student interested in environmental law practice, I have found this event to be a great way to gain more insight into the field and its expected changes.”