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September 17, 2009

Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation Symposium Exceeds Attendance Goal

Oregon Law’s Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation (JELL) Annual Symposium welcomed nearly 130 individuals to the September 11 panel discussions and keynote addresses examining the theme, “Legal and Ethical Duties in a Changing Climate.”

This attendance number surpassed the goal of 100, said Symposium Editor Autumn Johnson, who worked tirelessly on organizing the symposium since March.

“The best part of planning the symposium was working with the speakers and co-sponsors of the event,” she added. “It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to interact with some of the field’s most passionate and dedicated attorneys and scholars.”

This year’s theme noted that although climate change is a pressing concern for all people and species, the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems suffer the largest share of the devastating impacts of a warming globe. Overall, the symposium examined how the law must reshape current discourse on climate law and policy by addressing these inequitable effects while continuing innovative efforts to protect the environment, biodiversity, and human health.

In addition to four panel discussions featuring speakers from throughout the country, the symposium welcomed three keynote speakers: Professor Rebecca Tsosie from Arizona State University and Oregon Law’s inaugural Oregon Tribes Professor of Law; Lou Leonard, director for U.S. Policy on International Climate Affairs for the World Wildlife Fund; and Professor David Hodas from Widener Law.

Professor Tsosie’s presentation framed the issue of “climate equity” within a global context, yet focused on the impacts of climate change on indigenous peoples. Leonard’s address delved into how we divide responsibility for responding to climate change between the industrialized and developing worlds, while Professor Hodas provided a conceptual framework for a climate change agreement that advances human development.

Johnson continues to hear positive feedback about the symposium and admits that although there is still work to be done, she is relieved now that the pressure of deadlines has passed.

“It seems so strange to have something I have been working on since March be largely complete. I am not sure if it has totally sunk in, but I think things are going to be a little more relaxing now.”

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