The Yale European Law Association co-hosted a conference on European Union climate initiatives on Monday. It brought together leading academics and analysts on EU climate policy issues.
Yale Daily News
The European Law Association at Yale Law School co-hosted a conference titled “A Glimmer of Hope? Green Law and Policy in the EU ”with the Harvard European Law Association Monday afternoon.
The presentation brought together four panelists from various fields of European climate policy and international environmental law. Matei Alexianu YLS ’23, Board Member of the YLS European Law Association, was primarily responsible for organizing the event.
“The purpose of the event is to spark a conversation about the importance of European innovations in climate change policy and how they could inform US policy making,” Alexianu wrote in an email to News. “Europe has become one of the world leaders in certain aspects of the fight against climate change, such as carbon pricing and corporate responsibility. Speakers will analyze these initiatives: their design, impact, challenges and lessons for the United States. “
The seminar began with an account of the United Nations Conference COP26 by Christina Voigt, professor of law at the University of Oslo, who attended the conference as a member of the Norwegian delegation. Voigt explored the causes of the heightened expectation and coverage of the summit and highlighted issues the COP was able to address, including guidance and regulations for the carbon market and emissions reporting.
Voigt was followed by Michael Mehling, deputy director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and professor of practice at the University of Strathclyde School of Law. Mehling examined the role of the EU as a forerunner in climate policy and focused on the implications of EU policy decisions on the global market.
With a particular focus on the European Green Deal, Mehling described the threat of leakage – that the abandonment of carbon-intensive industries in some countries could lead to their proliferation in less environmentally friendly countries – and how the problem could be rectified.
“Global environmental challenges cannot be solved by simply cleaning up our own backyard as long as we continue to consume goods and services shipped from countries that allow unsustainable practices,” Mehling wrote in an email to the newspaper.
Following Mehling, Beate Sjafjell, professor at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, analyzed the relationship between company law and European Union policy. Very recently, according to Sjafjell, a sustainable corporate governance policy has been introduced as part of the EU’s political agenda, which raises expectations of corporate social responsibility by demanding considerations on climate change, human rights and biodiversity in corporate governance, as opposed to the previously accepted practice of shareholder primacy.
Sjafjell also examined the effects of these policy changes on US investors in EU companies, EU investors in US companies, and US participation in global value chains coordinated by EU companies. . Sjafjell said many of the effects can be undetermined.
“We are on a certain path towards a very uncertain future,” Sjafjell said during the panel.
The final panelist, Jonas Meckling, Associate Professor at the University of California at Berkeley and Visiting Associate Professor at the Yale School of the Environment, presented a comparative perspective between the EU and the United States on issues of law and climate politics. Meckling focused on areas of divergence between regulatory terms and economic thinking surrounding climate policy.
The seminar ended with a question-and-answer session in which panelists mainly focused on the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing government spending, concluding that the marriage of infrastructure and climate policy, as well as increased coverage of climate disasters during the pandemic, correlates with better reception of public spending.
The Law School European Law Association is an association of Yale law students and scholars interested in European legal, political and social issues.