Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, March 16, 2012

International law symposium to examine renewable energies

Stephanie Chase

The opportunities and challenges encountered in the development of renewable energies to offset climate change is the subject of the Wisconsin International Law Journal 2012 Symposium on Friday, March 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. at the Law School.

"Climate change is considered as one of the main challenges to this generation's policymakers and scholars with potential impacts on generations to come," says La Follette School student Stephanie Chase, one of the symposium's organizers. "While the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has been the main focus of international efforts thus far, the development of alternative fuels is another important policy response to climate change."

Through three panel discussions, the symposium, "Renewable Energy & Climate Change: Opportunities & Challenges," will examine renewable energy in the United States and in other countries. The first panel will discuss renewable energy in the United States. "Wisconsin and other states, including California, have made important strides in the development of renewable energy, but they face challenges," Chase says.

The second panel will focus on issues that affect many countries, including biofuels and food security, human and indigenous rights, intellectual property and land tenure. The third panel will look at the development of renewable energies in other regions to see what policymakers in Wisconsin and the United States can learn. This discussion will explore efforts in the European Union (particularly Germany and Denmark) and Brazil's ethanol produced from sugar cane, as well as the use of renewable energy in China and India.

"Lawmakers are looking for new ways to accelerate the development of low-carbon and no-carbon fuels," Chase says. "The use of renewable energies and fuels such as wind, solar photovoltaic and biofuels will continue to grow as techniques and technologies are developed. These changes are a welcome and necessary development. However, with the growth of these industries comes challenges for individual nations and the international community."

Presenters are invited to submit their papers for publication in the special issue of the Wisconsin International Law Journal. University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty, including Greg Nemet of the La Follette School, will moderate panels.

Chase, a student in the dual-degree law and public affairs program, and law student Jamie Konopacky have planned the event for nearly a year, including gathering sponsors, raising funds, and arranging for panelists to attend.

Campus sponsors include the Law School and its Global Legal Studies Center, Institute for Legal Studies, East Asian Legal Studies Center and Environmental Law Society; the Lectures Committee; the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies; the Center for German and European Studies; and the European Union Center of Excellence. Other sponsors include Sonnet and Chris Edmonds; Sonnet Schmidt Edmonds Prize in Energy Law; the American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources; Wisconsin State Bar's Energy and Telecommunications Section and its Section on International Law; LexisNexis; Clean Wisconsin; and student groups the Wisconsin International Law Society and Wisconsin Environmental Law Society.