Student papers impress in climate change law and policy course

My first semester as a visiting lecturer at Richardson School of Law came to an end recently. Teaching a new course is always a challenge but it’s one I welcomed and enjoyed. I taught for a number of years at the graduate level at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management but this was my first law school course. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from my students, and it was all quite new for many of students also since our class was, for about half of the students, the first class they’d taken in person since the school had been online only for much of the last two years. 

LWEV 530 focused on climate change law and policy, which is a truly large area of the law and scholarship more generally, including everything from building energy efficiency standards to renewable electricity mandates to cap and trade programs. It’s a challenge to get your head around the scope of this area, even for me as a lawyer in this field for almost twenty areas now. It’s even more challenging for students, of course, who in many cases are coming to these topics with no background at all. 

My course grade was mostly based on a research paper, which could be any topic in climate change law or policy. I helped guide students in honing possible topics, then I gave feedback on a draft paper before the final papers were due. I was very impressed with the quality of the papers and I’m going to highlight a few in this blog post. 

(All students gave consent to be featured here). 

Gillian Kim ’23 wrote a paper on “Renewable Energy for All: Analyzing Whether Hawaiʻi Will Be Able to Meet Its RPS Mandate.” Hawaiʻi set the trend in the US by passing its 100% renewable electricity mandate in 2016, but can we meet this ambitious target by 2045? 

Navy lawyers Jacob Honigman (LLM ’22) and Joseph Horton (LLM ’22) wrote a paper on “Is the Department of Defense doing enough on climate change planning and readiness?” Honigman and Horton take a comprehensive look at existing planning documents from the DoD and compare them to the gold standard science of climate change and adaptation. 

Farah Mok (LLM ’22) wrote a paper on “Tracing the Development of the Urban Heat Island Discussion through IPCC Reports: Implications for Future Policy Decisions.” The urban heat island effect (buildings and concrete more generally tend to trap heat more than open land) is a potential complication in climate science and Mok goes through decades of IPCC reports to analyze how this issue is being managed. 

And Grant Barring ’23 and Ian Kasaitis ’23 wrote a paper on “Can Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives Make A Significant Difference In Mitigating Climate Change?” Corporate Social Responsibility has become popular, but is it actually effective? Can it be made more effective? 

These papers all make significant contributions to the field of climate change law and policy. Please message me at if you’d like a copy of any of these papers. 

– Tam Hunt, J.D.