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Fall & Winter 2019-2020 Courses

Fall 2019-2020

LAW 807B | Policy Practicum: What we can do to Mitigate Climate Warming

We will take as a given the well-established scientific evidence establishing the causal connection between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and global warming, and the likelihood that current trajectories of fossil fuel use are leading to catastrophic climate change. Beginning with this premise, we ask how individuals and nonprofit organizations and institutions can use their power and authority to mitigate climate change, whether acting on their own or influencing decisions by governments and businesses.

We will start by mapping the major sources of GHG emissions and the direct and external costs and benefits of reducing emissions now and in the future. We then examine strategies for reducing them, including voluntary action and influencing government policies, business practices and investment decisions. Among other things, we shall inquire into the role of positive investments in renewable resources and new technologies, and whether refusing to invest in certain enterprises can reduce GHG emissions. We will also look at the influence that residents, employees, consumers, regulators, and other stakeholders may exert, whether acting individually or as part of social movements. The two instructors have considerable knowledge about climate and investment policies, and plan to draw on expertise in ethics, social movements, finance, and other related areas.

The mandate of the Stanford Law and Policy Lab is to conduct impartial, evidence-informed policy analysis. Rather than deliver a set of specific recommendations, this practicum seeks to identify and assess the pros and cons of plausible strategies. In addition to a written report, we plan to convene a forum, open to members of the Stanford community, to discuss our findings.

Although the Policy Lab practicums are designed mainly for law students, they are open to students throughout the University. Admission is by petition.

Given the scope of work, this practicum may continue into the winter quarter, but students need only commit themselves for the Autumn.

Elements use in grading: Attendance, Performance, Class Participation, Written Assignments, Final Paper.

Consent Application: To apply for this course, students must complete and submit a Consent Application Form. See Consent Application Form for instructions and submission deadline.

Paul Brest |  Alicia Seiger
Units: 3 | Grading: Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail

Winter 2019-2020

LAW 2513 | Climate: Politics, Finance, and Infrastructure

While climate change is often considered an ‘environmental problem’, the risks and opportunities embedded in a changing climate go well beyond the frame of the natural environment. This course will reframe climate as a macroeconomic challenge, one in which multilateral politics, global investment and physical and institutional infrastructure must be understood and reconsidered. Based on scholarly analysis and guest speakers, this interdisciplinary course will frame the arc of climate past, present and future on the pillars of politics, finance and infrastructure. Starting with the policy framework established by past global climate negotiations, the bulk of the course will investigate current innovations at the intersection of finance and policy, including risk metrics, management and disclosure, liability litigation, blended finance, new investment vehicles and intermediaries, and resilience measures. The final sessions will consider the future, taking a look at how future leaders might solve the greatest challenge of our time.

Elements used in grading: Students may take the course for 2 units (section 1) or 3 units (section 2). Section 1 and 2 students will both receive grades for attendance, in class participation and guest-speaker questions. Section 1 students will also complete a group presentation on the design of a financial, business, legal or policy intervention with the potential to reduce emissions on a large scale. Section 2 students will be required to write a research paper meeting the Law School’s R paper requirements. This class is limited to 30 students, with an effort made to have students from SLS (15 students will be selected by lottery) and 15 non-law students by consent of instructor. After the term begins, students accepted into the course can transfer from section (01) into section (02), which meets the R requirement, with consent of the instructor.

Kate Gordon |  Alicia Seiger
Units: 3 | Grading: Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail