Environmental Law Review Symposium Examines Green New Deal

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“The Green New Deal: Fighting Climate Change Through Law” was the theme of the Fordham Environmental Law Review’s 27th Annual Symposium, held on March 5, 2020. Seven scholars and officials were invited to discuss the implementation of the recently proposed Green New Deal and its potential impact on urban, suburban, and rural communities. Potential political hurdles to passing implementation were discussed, along with the need for global cooperation to be effective at fostering a cleaner, “greener” Earth.

“Many people might not be aware of some of the more detailed points of the Green New Deal, and I hope the symposium helped the Fordham Law community go from a cursory knowledge of the proposal to a more comprehensive understanding about what is going on,” said Symposium Editor Evan Dunatov ’20. The Green New Deal, proposed by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in February 2019, outlines far-reaching environmental goals like achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, securing clean air and water, and creating millions of new, high-wage jobs in clean energy.

Adjunct Professor of Law and former Co-Chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Renewable, Alternative, and Distributed Energy Resources Committee in the ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Kimberly Diamond was a featured speaker on a panel entitled “The Green New Deal and Its Legal Challenges and Opportunities.” She highlighted the importance of setting transparent industry standards. “Adherence to these standards can potentially help avoid litigation in the future and can serve as a benchmark for all industry players,” Professor Diamond said.

Professor Diamond stated that while the goals of the proposal are ambitious, it doesn’t explicitly outline how they would be funded, enforced, or implemented. She noted that the language of the Green New Deal calls for development through transparent and inclusive consultation, collaboration, and partnership, naming “businesses” as one of the groups of partners.  “The bottom line is that government funding should be additive, in addition to private industry funding,” Professor Diamond said. “We should still encourage and incentivize corporations, banks, and hedge funds to remain a driving force in building our renewable energy future so that they play a key part in the development equation and continue to help shape our renewable energy future.”

Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Sustainable Development Legal Initiative Paolo Galizzi, who moderated the panel, opened and closed the discussion with a hopeful outlook. “Too often, environmental issues and climate change are presented in negative terms, but the reality of climate change also presents us with an opportunity. An opportunity to do something about preserving this planet for ourselves, future generations, and other species on this planet,” he said. “Maybe we can come up with better global rules that can be easily implemented at the local level to involve everybody.”

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