Meeting of the Minds on International Law and the Climate Crisis

In early April, several of the country's foremost environmental law scholars engaged in three lively panels at McGeorge’s 40th Annual International Law Symposium, which was held for the first time as a videoconference.

"Rethinking International Law for the Age of the Anthropocene," examined the profound legal implications of human activity's influence on the planet's climate and the environment that is now approaching near-dominance, according to many scientists.

Professor Jarrod Wong, co-director of the law school's Global Center for Business & Development directed the daylong program. Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz delivered opening remarks on the importance of the issues. Nearly 100 people tuned in during the Zoom event. 

"The discussions highlighted the need for the many constituencies of the international community to work together to mitigate and find solutions to the various urgent environmental problems that afflict our planet," Wong says.

The first panel, moderated by Professor Frank Gevurtz, explored the current state of international environmental law. Berkeley Law Professor Eric Biber, LSU’s Nicholas Bryner, and Santa Clara's Tseming Yang were the participants.

"Professor Yang commented on a surprising reality in that discussion," Wong says. "Very few of the norms are binding in the scores of treaties that impact our environment."

The middle panel, moderated by Professor and co-Director of the Global Center Omar Dajani, centered on human rights vis-a-vis international environmental law. Two fellows at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, Daniel Magraw and Dafne Carletti, spoke on transnational activism. Loyola Chicago Professor Carmen Gonzalez addressed migration and climate change, and University of Windsor (Ontario) Professor Patricia Galvão Ferreira scrutinized indigenous rights.

Wong served as moderator for the final panel that investigated evolving approaches to international law. Professors Steve McCaffrey and Rachael Salcido were among the three participants. Hastings Professor David Takacs presented on "We Are The River," his forthcoming article in the University of Illinois Law Review. Salcido updated the attendees on a study of the disturbing amount of ocean plastics pollution. McCaffrey, who has been directly involved as a expert consultant in attempts to resolve several major water law treaty disputes, spoke on treaties in the time of climate change.

JD students who are interested in exploring these issues can explore them by pursuing McGeorge’s Concentration in International Law or Water & Environmental Law Certificate of Concentration. McGeorge also offers water and environmental concentrations in our MSLLLM, and JSD programs.