Distinguished Speaker Examines International Negotiations on Climate Change
Web Editor - Published: February 21, 2013
“We don’t have a framework – an ideology – for how we’re going to come together,” said American University Washington College of Law Professor David Hunter as he spoke about “The Future of the International Climate Change Regime: A Tale of Two Approaches,” on Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus on Tuesday, February 19th as part of the Environmental Law Center’s Distinguished Speaker series.

Hunter’s talk focused on the two different approaches to creating an international climate change regime embodied by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the non-binding 2009 Copenhagen Accord. He characterized the Kyoto Protocol as a top-down approach that looked to place binding limits on emissions in industrialized nations while the Copenhagen Accord offered a bottom-up approach in which nations undertook non-binding commitments of their own choosing.

Hunter observed that while there is a broad agreement on the overarching goals of an international climate change regime, “the question is how are we going to get there?”

He also touched on the idea of an “ambition gap” between what countries were willing to pledge to in the Copenhagen Accord and what the science says will be necessary to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference” with the planet’s climate. He concluded his talk by examining the importance of China and the United States as the countries emitting the most greenhouse gases and looked at the political situation in the U.S. before taking audience questions.

A graduate of the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School, David Hunter is Professor of Law, Director of the International Legal Studies Program, and Director of the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law at American University’s Washington College of Law. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide-US, Earth Rights International, the Project on Government Oversight, and the Center for Progressive Reform.

Hunter previously served as Executive Director of the Center for International Environmental Law and was formerly an environmental consultant to the Czech and Slovak environmental ministries, an environmental associate at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and executive director of WaterWatch of Oregon, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving western water laws.