Climate change is a defining issue of our generation. From the mass movement of people to the disappearance of island states, the adverse consequences of climate change pose unique and unprecedented legal challenges. Moreover, given the disproportionate impact on poor and vulnerable communities and states, climate change raises profound social justice challenges.

United States is not immune to these consequences. From indigenous communities in Alaska to Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana, communities are being relocated due to climate change while coastal communities from Florida to California are worrying about constant flooding and the impact on their property values, increasing severe and frequent extreme weather events, and wildfires ravaging the country, its economy and people. As the highest contributor to greenhouse gases historically, the United States has a greater responsibility to address climate change.

Within hours of being sworn in, President Biden re-joined the Paris Agreement and issued an executive order on climate change. On Earth Day, he held a virtual summit on climate change with world leaders where he pledged to halve carbon emissions by 2030 and go carbon neutral by 2050.

This symposium seeks to look at these developments. Climate change as well as transitioning to a low carbon economy pose many legal and policy challenges. It will feature leading lawyers, policy makers and activists to look at these challenges and the way forward. The symposium will launch the Wisconsin Initiative on Law and Climate Change (WILCC), a joint initiative between the Human Rights Program and the Global Legal Studies Center at the UW Law School.


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