Highlighting the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy
I’m sharing two blog posts with you on the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. This week’s post will describe YCELP’s programs; the second post will discuss the newly formed YCELP student board, the Environmental Protection Clinic and opportunities for interested prospective students!
The Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, or YCELP, is a joint initiative of the School of Forestry and the Yale Law School. The Center works with students from these two schools to integrate environmental awareness and ethics with law and policy. YCELP also serves as a hub for members of the Yale community who are interested in environmental law and policy: many of its events are open to and attended by the public.
YCELP operates on three parallel tracks: research, outreach, and education. Its flagship programs are the research program and the Environmental Performance Index in particular. It also helps run the Environmental Protection Clinic, a fantastic practicum capstone course that I’ll discuss more next week. The first of the program areas is the Environmental Performance Measurement (EPM). EPM is designed to create indicators that help measure the sustainable environmental progress of countries. This will, in turn, aims to help inform policymaking by providing real data on socio-economic, environmental, and institutional factors. In 2010, YCELP collaborated with the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Network (CIESIN) and the World Economic Forum to create a ranked Environmental Performance Index for 163 countries. This Index ranks the countries on 25 categories covering the environment, public health, and ecosystem vitality.
I’ve found the China Environmental Performance Index to be a highlight of the EPM program. While I already described the EPM and indices that are calculated on a national level, the China project looks at the country’s performance at a provincial level. Although the project was completed and is not a focus of research at the moment, it is a fantastic study that I think is worth mentioning. This project was a collaboration of YCELP, CIESIN and the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning and the City University of Hong Kong. While the team learned in its research that it was not possible to rank the provinces in full due to the lack of articulated targets, the report is incredibly thorough. For example, the report shows that the huge western province Xinjiang emits much more nitrogen dioxide than mountainous province of Xizang (Tibet) and than the coal-mined rural province of Shaanxi. I was surprised to read that the northeast province Heilongjiang (for those of us studying Chinese, we know Harbin, the center for learning good Putonghua!) has some of the lowest percentage of treated municipal and municipal solid waste in the nation. Yikes! You can check out the full report here.
In addition to the EPI, YCELP research assistants also work with the Center’s acting Director, Professor Doug Kysar. Professor Kysar’s research covers climate law – both domestic and international. One of the really interesting projects here has been the collaboration with Ambassador Stuart Beck of the Permanent Mission of Palau to the UN. Ambassador Beck has teamed up with Professor Kysar and students from FES and YLS to pursue a campaign to have the International Court of Justice hear the claims of small island nations who are dramatically threatened by the consequences of climate change.