Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Call for Papers: Regulating the Energy Transition: Issues at the Intersection of Energy and Environmental Law

A call for papers has been issued for a workshop on "Regulating the Energy Transition: Issues at the Intersection of Energy and Environmental Law," to be held June 30-July 1, 2016, at the University of Oxford. Here's the call:


Regulating the Energy Transition:

Issues at the Intersection of Energy and Environmental Law

All Souls College, University of Oxford, 30 June-1 July 2016


In the face of climate change and severe energy poverty, our energy systems find themselves at a critical point of transition. Legal frameworks at the international, domestic and regional levels have an important but as yet under-examined role to play in this process.

There is worldwide consensus on the urgent need for deep cuts in carbon emissions in order to avoid the disastrous ecological and social effects of climate change. The recently adopted Paris Agreement on climate change aims to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”[1] At the same time, improving energy access is indispensable to the “right to development” of the world’s poor. As the single greatest source of carbon emissions, the energy sector will need to undergo fundamental change at all scales to ensure equitable access to clean and secure energy in response to this three-fold ecological, economic and equity crisis. Some change is already underway thanks to efforts to limit carbon emissions and promote low-carbon technologies at national, regional and international levels.

While this has spurred investigation and inquiry in the areas of science, technology and economics, the role of law in this transition has been relatively unexamined[2]. Both international and domestic law has tended to treat energy and the environment as two discrete and separate areas of practice and research. Traditionally, energy law is concerned with securing energy supply and regulates the exploitation of natural resources for generation, energy transmission and distribution. On the other hand, the object of environmental law is the protection of the environment from the adverse impacts of human activities while promoting sustainable development. This siloed approach is outdated in the face of ever-growing overlap and interconnection between the two areas. There is pressing need to interrogate the issues emerging at the intersection of energy and environmental law and to consider the extent to which these fields should seek to develop integrated approaches to common problems.

For example, in the quest to transition to low-carbon energy systems, we must consider how to account for the environmental impacts of new energy sources (e.g. biofuels and shale oil and gas), expanding energy frontiers (e.g. oil drilling in the Arctic), and novel extraction methods (e.g. hydraulic fracturing) and technologies (e.g. offshore wind farms and energy storage). Similarly, as countries move away from traditional models of centralized production and distribution based on burning fossil fuels to systems with decentralized and intermittent renewable energy technology, new forms of regulation will be required. Indeed for many developing countries, these new models present an opportunity to circumvent the costly investment required for conventional energy transmission infrastructure and to improve energy access at the household level through solar panels and cookers. In turn, law has a role to play in strengthening the resilience of existing and new energy infrastructure to the impacts of current and future climate change for energy security.

The workshop

This event, to be held at All Souls College, University of Oxford, on Thursday, 30 June and Friday, 1 July 2016, will build on existing scholarship and foster dialogue among scholars and practitioners over the growing intersection between international/transnational energy and environmental law in the energy transition. The workshop is being organised by the Oxford Law Faculty, the University of Minnesota Law School and Energy Transition Lab and Melbourne Law School, together with the American Society of International Law (ASIL).

The workshop is intended to bring together leading academic thinkers together with key stakeholders to consider questions at the cutting edge of law, policy and practice at the intersection of the environmental and energy fields. It is hoped that the papers presented and discussions held at the workshop will foster novel, cross-cutting international energy/environmental law scholarship.

Call for papers

In addition to several invited speakers for each panel at the workshop, the organizers are issuing an open call for papers on the themes to be addressed at the workshop, including:

  • What do Paris Agreement and international efforts to address energy poverty mean for the growing intersection between international energy and environmental law?
  • How does international law interface with domestic law with regard to environmental issues emerging from new energy sources and technologies?
  • What is the role of international and transnational law in the context of grid transformation?
  • How is law to regulate the environmental impacts associated with the development and exploitation of offshore energy sources?
  • How can law and legal processes such as litigation be used to spur the energy transition in developed and developing countries?
  • What are some of the emerging issues and challenges at the intersection of energy and environmental law?

Interested persons should submit abstracts of no more than 500 words for papers addressing one of the panel themes, along with a CV. The organizers are particularly interested in well-developed proposals that could be refined following the workshop into papers for publication. We also aim to have a diverse set of participants from multiple countries and perspectives, including people at multiple stages of career.

Abstracts should be submitted to Catherine Redgwell (catherine.redgwell@law.ox.ac.uk), Jacqueline Peel (j.peel@unimelb.edu.au) or Hari Osofsky (hosofsky@umn.edu) no later than 11 March 2016 to be guaranteed consideration. Speakers selected from the open call will be kindly expected to submit a draft of their paper no later than 31 May 2016 to allow circulation to other workshop participants.

Successful applicants will be asked to cover their own travel costs, however, all meals at the workshop will be supplied and the workshop organizers have arranged a block hotel booking in Oxford at a competitive rate for workshop participants.

1. Paris Agreement, article 2(1).

2. The organisers acknowledge early work in the field such as D. Zillman et al Beyond the carbon economy (OUP, 2008).