Law school conference explores legal challenges posed by climate change


Aerial photo facing east, toward Oroville Dam and Lake Oroville, showing the damaged spillway with its outflow of 100,000 cubic feet per second. Image courtesy of Dale Kolke, California Department of Water Resources. Photo taken February 15, 2017.

Published March 8, 2017

“This conference frames this issue with a Buffalo perspective, and then opens the discussion to issues that are shared around the globe”
Kim Diana Connolly, professor of law
University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo’s Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy and Buffalo Environmental Law Journal brought together noted experts to discuss how law and policy can help society address the changing climate, and the justice issues those changes raise, as part of “The Changing Climate: Reflections on Current Law, Policy, Justice and Regulation.”

The conference took place March 10-11 in the Cellino and Barnes Conference Center, 509 O’Brian Hall on UB’s North Campus. 

“This conference frames this issue with a Buffalo perspective, and then opens the discussion to issues that are shared around the globe,” said Kim Diana Connolly, professor of law and a conference organizer who directs the UB School of Law’s environmental law program.

The two-day event opened on March 10, with a panel from 4-5:30 p.m. focused on local issues and featuring environmental law experts from the Western New York community.

Sam Magavern, an adjunct professor in the UB School of Law and co-director of the Partnership for the Public Good, moderated the discussion, “Buffalo at the Crossroads: Advocating for Climate Justice in a Cold City,” which will feature John Washington, co-director of organizing, PUSH Buffalo; David Kowalski, founder, Re-ENERGIZE Buffalo; and Robert Ciesielski, energy committee chair, Sierra Club, Atlantic Chapter. 

On March 11, international scholars met from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to share ideas on issues related to climate change law and emerging solutions. Topics will include energy security, inclusivity, trade, environmental integrity and ecosystem governance.

In addition to Connolly, presenters included:

  • Deepa Badrinarayana, professor, Dale E. Fowler School of Law, Chapman University
  • Cinnamon Carlarne, associate dean for faculty, professor of law, Michael E. Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University
  • Poalo D. Farah, assistant professor of public administration, West Virginia University
  • Zoe Hamstead, assistant professor, UB School of Architecture and Planning
  • Keith Hirokawa, associate professor of law, Albany Law School
  • Hari M. Osofsky, Robins Kaplan Professor of Law, faculty director of the Energy Transition Lab, University of Minnesota Law School
  • Jeffery Ray, Esq., energy law practitioner
  • Nicholas A. Robinson, university professor and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law Emeritus, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University (via video)
  • Anemoon Soete, faculty of law, Department of European, Public and International Law, Ghent University