Empirical data demonstrate that the climate is changing and that these changes could produce increasingly serious consequences over the course of this century. Governments and private actors around the world are strategizing, debating, lobbying, implementing, and defending mechanisms to both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. This course explores the legal framework in which climate change action occurs in the United States, policy tools available to regulators, impacts on regulated entities and individuals, and opportunities for private stakeholders to participate in and influence climate change decisions. The course begins with a brief introduction to climate change and its projected impacts, and then reviews the evolution of climate change related laws in the United States and related litigation. This analysis focuses on the federal level, but also considers the separate authority of states and municipalities to take actions. Massachusetts and Cambridge are the primary case studies for the class. Substantive issues that are addressed in this section of the course include administrative law and the relationship between Congressional statutes and agency regulations; the structure of the federal Clean Air Act and history of air regulation in the United States; federalism, particularly the relationship between federal, state, and municipal governments in regulating air pollution; and the judicial review processes. In addition to learning about these substantive legal issues, students develop or practice legal research skills associated with researching statutes and regulations, and interpreting judicial decisions. Students apply this legal framework to an in-depth review of several climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. This provides a window into the relationship between legal and policy strategies at the federal, state and municipal levels, including how these relationships create opportunities and obstacles, both to private actors, such as businesses, and to climate change efforts. The class evaluates strategies for improving climate change regulations, including identifying technical and legal challenges that need to be addressed. Through this analysis students learn about substantive legal issues, such as preemption and takings law, procedural aspects of rulemakings, and opportunities for public involvement in policy and regulatory development. Students also gain experience with activities relevant to designing, influencing, and implementing climate change strategies by writing comments on regulations, drafting statutory or regulatory language, and developing corporate climate change policy statements and risk disclosures.


Related Certificates and Degrees

This course may apply toward one of the following graduate certificates or degrees at Harvard Extension School:

Explore other degrees and certificates.

Meet The Faculty

Aladdine Joroff

Aladdine Joroff

Lecturer on Law, Staff Attorney and Clinical Instructor, Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, Harvard Law School

JD, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Course Provided By

Back To Top