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Climate Change and Environmental Law

Law and legal institutions lie at the heart of the global community’s response to climate change. Advancements in local, national, and international law are key to addressing the climate crisis, bringing justice to those disproportionately harmed by it, and forging strategies for coping with its unavoidable consequences. Climate change also creates a need for a new generation of lawyers attuned to the social, economic, political, and ecological dynamics of large-scale change.

At the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, we are committed to rigorous, cutting-edge scholarship and engaged teaching aimed at understanding the climate crisis and related environmental problems — and to identifying and implementing legal solutions to these problems.

We have a demonstrated commitment to focusing on climate change and environmental law through faculty and research excellence, a wide range of curricular options, and extensive opportunities for student service and engagement beyond the classroom. And we understand that climate change cannot be considered in isolation from other pressing social and economic issues, and thus encourage conversations related to climate and environmental justice throughout the broader law school curriculum and community.



Climate and Environmental Law at
Penn Carey Law

Penn Carey Law students have the opportunity to engage with world-class faculty through an array of course options on climate and environmental law. They can also pursue joint degree programs across the university, participate in pro bono and experiential learning opportunities, and engage with faculty on research projects or in dialogue at a variety of conferences, workshops, and seminars. The following list provides a sampling of recent opportunities available to Penn Carey Law students. 

On this page:



Climate, Energy, and Environmental Law Courses




Clinical and Experiential Learning Opportunities




Interdisciplinary Joint Degree and Certificate Programs


Most Penn Carey Law students earn certificates or joint degrees from other schools at the University of Pennsylvania. These include the following programs specifically oriented to climate, energy, and environmental law and policy:

In addition, other joint degree and certificate programs pursued by Penn Carey Law students can be tailored to interests in climate, energy, and environmental issues:



Student Activities and Pro Bono Opportunities



Conferences, Workshops, and Seminars


Numerous law school and university events center on issues of climate, energy, and environmental law and policy. A sampling of recent events at the law school includes:



Selected Faculty Research


  • Cary Coglianese, “Environmental Soft Law as a Governance Strategy,” 61 Jurimetrics 619-51 (2020)

  • Cary Coglianese, “Social Science and the Analysis of Environmental Policy,” 37 Review of Policy Research 573-604 (2020) (with Shana Starobin)

  • Cary Coglianese, “Litigating EPA Rules: A Fifty-Year Retrospective of Environmental Rulemaking in the Courts,” 70 Case Western Reserve Law Review 1007-1037 (2020) (with Daniel E. Walters)

  • Cary Coglianese, “Whither the Regulatory “War on Coal”? Scapegoats, Saviors, and Stock Market Reactions,” Ecology Law Quarterly 47:1-72 (2020) (with Daniel E. Walters)

  • Cary Coglianese, “Pledging, Populism, and the Paris Agreement: The Paradox of a Management-Based Approach to Global Governance,” 34 Maryland Journal of International Law 141-182 (2019)

  • Cary Coglianese, “Deploying Machine Learning for a Sustainable Future,” A Better Planet: Forty Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future 200-208 (Daniel Esty, ed., Yale University Press, 2019)

  • Rangita de Silva de Alwis, “Redefining Leadership in the Age of the SDGs: Accelerating and Scaling Up Delivery Through Innovation and Inclusion” (2019) (with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka)

  • Lisa Fairfax, “Who Makes ESG? Understanding Stakeholders in the ESG Debate,” 26 Fordham Journal of Corporate & Finance Law 277 (2021)

  • Jill E. Fisch, “Do ESG Mutual Funds Deliver On Their Promises,” 120 Michigan Law Review 393 (2021) (with Adriana Z. Robertson and Quinn Curtis)

  • Jill E. Fisch, “Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable,” 107 Georgetown Law Journal 923 (2019)

  • Jonathan Klick, “The Costs of Critical Habitat or Owl’s Well That Ends Well” (2020)

  • Damilola Olawuyi, “From Technology Transfer to Technology Absorption: Addressing Climate Technology Gaps in Africa,” 36 Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law 61 (2018)

  • Margaret Peloso, “Developments in Climate Change Adaptation Law and Policy,” ALI-CLE Course Materials (2020)

  • Margaret Peloso, “Water Over the Bridge: Rising ESG Stakes on the Approaching Water Wars,” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute (2021)

  • Margaret Peloso, “ESG Matters,” 82 Texas Bar Journal 852 (2019)

  • Margaret Peloso, “Board Oversight In ESG: Evolving Trends in the Era of Increasing Disclosure Requirements,” 52 Environmental Law Reporter (ELI) 10637 (2022)

  • Elizabeth Pollman, Corporate Social Responsibility, ESG, & Compliance,” in Cambridge Handbook of Compliance (2021)

  • Leo Strine, “Caremark and ESG, Perfect Together: A Practical Approach to Implementing an Integrated, Efficient, and Effective Caremark and EESG Strategy,” 106 Iowa Law Review 1885 (2021)

  • Shelley Welton, “Neutralizing the Atmosphere,” Yale Law Journal (2022)

  • Shelley Welton, “Grid Reliability through Clean Energy,” 74 Stanford Law Review 969 (2022) (with Josh Macey, Alex Klass, and Hannah Wiseman)

  • Shelley Welton, “Rethinking Grid Governance for the Climate Change Era,” 109 California Law Review 209 (2021)

  • Shelley Welton, “The Bounds of Energy Law,” 62 Boston College Law Review 2239 (2021)

  • Shelley Welton, “Decarbonization in Democracy,” 67 UCLA Law Review 56 (2020)

  • Shelley Welton, “Electricity Markets and the Social Project of Decarbonization,” 118 Columbia Law Review 1067 (2018)