Year in Review

UCLA Law Magazine | Fall 2020

Emmett Institute Boosts International Cooperation on Climate Change

Professor Alex Wang leads climate-change projects that bring together leaders from China and California.

As the U.S. federal government continues to retreat from a leadership role on climate change, Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment faculty and students helped advance action this year through a series cross-jurisdictional collaborations. 

Now in its fourth year, a research project on the governance of climate engineering led by Ted Parson, the Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law, continued to explore urgent questions around scientific research and policy frameworks for deploying new technologies to limit harms from climate change.

The project’s scholars, including Parson and three fellows – Holly Buck, Jesse Reynolds and Charles Corbett – produced many scholarly and applied publications while they organized and participated in several workshops and events on climate-engineering governance. In August 2019, the project convened the International Summer School on Geoengineering Governance in Banff, Canada. The following month, Parson led senior policy consultations and briefings with the government of Canada. Parson and Reynolds also contributed to a report commissioned by the government of Switzerland to inform its pursuit of international collaborative research and climate-engineering governance development. In September 2020, Parson, Buck and Reynolds contributed to a special issue of the quarterly MIT Press journal Global Environmental Politics, focused on how technology shapes the political world and environmental outcomes. 

States and cities have also stepped up their climate efforts, including through international engagement. Professor Alex Wang continued to lead projects that bring together leaders from China and California to share ideas for addressing environmental challenges.

In September 2019, Wang led a two-week study tour in Los Angeles and North Carolina that introduced high-level Chinese environmental regulators to U.S. systems of environmental permitting. This past August, Wang launched a new report on California’s efforts to coordinate regulation of pollutants that harm air quality and contribute to climate change. Co-authored by Siyi Shen, Emmett/Frankel Fellow in Environmental Law and Policy, and David Pettit ’75, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, the report was published in English and Chinese as part of a joint project of the Emmett Institute and the Energy Foundation. The report is designed to provide lessons from California to regulators in China on coordinated governance of air and climate pollutants.

Wang also serves as a co-chair of the academic advisory committee for the California–China Climate Institute, a partnership that includes other UC campuses, former California Gov. Jerry Brown and Chinese climate officials, which launched last fall to spur climate action through research, training and dialogue.