March 30, 2015
by guest author Helen Li, Yale Law School ‘17
On February 28, 2015, students, faculty, community leaders, businesspeople, and government officials alike gathered at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for the 5th annual New Directions in Environmental Law Conference: Harnessing Momentum.
Harnessing Momentum brought together environmental thought-leaders from across the country for a day of dialogue and a show of solidarity. Convened against the backdrop of the People’s Climate March, the U.S.-China Climate Change and Clean Energy Commitment, and the upcoming COP 21 negotiations in Paris, conference participants discussed ways to channel energy to make 21stCentury environmental solutions a reality. Panels and workshops examined innovative solutions and promises to exact real, lasting change, from local communities to national arenas to the international stage.
Mayor Toni Harp delivered the opening address, exploring how the city of New Haven has dedicated itself to a sustainable future and acknowledging the magnitude of work that still needs to be done. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D – RI) delivered the keynote address, presenting his solutions and strategies in the national government. There is still optimism. There is still hope. There is still momentum to generate policies that will propel the United States to the vanguard of environmental progress.
Panel discussions explored environmental communications—how to reach and engage new communities and how to most effectively catalyze action on environmental policy—and the U.S.-China Commitment—how to hold true to our commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Workshops covered a wide range of topics, from climate change issues in Indian Country to environmental justice in overburdened communities.
Throughout the conference, participants engaged in lively dialogue on the most important issues of the day. The event created networks of engaged citizenry and connected them to journalists, professors, organizers, and policymakers. Though New Directions in Environmental Law was only a daylong event, its impact will extend long past February 28th.
For more on the conference, please visit http://www.law.yale.edu/news/2015envirolawconference.htm.