World Commission on Environmental Law

Energy and Climate Change

Co-Chairs: Richard Ottinger, Wang Xi

Year in Review

This year, the IUCN Council made two very important decisions enhancing IUCN’s commitment to address climate change: It decided 1) to create a high-level Climate Change Task Force to review and enhance IUCN’s emphasis on climate change, and 2) to create a climate change webpage on the IUCN website “to aggregate and organise in one place the principal links to all the climate-related work that we are doing across our different global and regional programmes and commissions.”

These decisions  opened up a broad range of opportunities for the WCEL Specialist Group (SG) on Energy and Climate Change to assist IUCN in addressing the crucial issues of climate change mitigation, including action on the principal energy causes of climate change that are also the main focus of the UNFCCC COP negotiations.

Research & Presentations

The SG has performed, presented and published a number of important climate change related studies, all of which can be found here

Some of the most recent works include:

  • Presentation to the European Environmental Lawyers Association in La Rochelle, France October 28, 2015, on “Expanding COP21 INDCs to Include Non-National Contributions”, including also other recommendations for COP21 success, (publication pending).
  • Presentation to the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law colloquium in Tarragona,, Spain,  Richard Ottinger & John Bowie, Innovative Financing for Renewable Energy, 32.3 PACE ENVT'L L. REV ( July 2015).
  • Presentation for the National University of Singapore to the APCEL Workshop on Climate Change Adaptation, Chapter on World Survey of Climate Change Adaptation Measures, Koh, K.L., I. Kelman, R. Kibugi, and R.-L.E. Osorio (eds.). 2015. Adaptation to Climate Change: ASEAN and Comparative Experiences. World Scientific, Singapore, see here.
  • Pace Law School has just received a contract from UNEP to produce, under the supervision of SG Chair Ottinger and SG member, Adelaide University Professor Adrian Bradbrook , a sequel to its 2007 UNEP Handbook for Legal Draftsmen on Environmentally Sound Management of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources, see here.

Work in China

The Specialist Group has focused a great deal of its work on China, seeking to help it resolve its serious pollution and climate change problems. Most of this work has been done in collaboration with SG Co-Chair, Professor Wang Xi, Vice Dean and Director of the Environmental Law Institute at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU).

Together with SJTU, the SG hosted the first Annual Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law (proceedings published here, 2007).  A volume of law texts published by Cambridge, which are available here, also accompanied the published proceedings from this meeting.

Recently, the SG did a study of the U.S. implementation of environmental lawsusing successful Hudson River remediation actions as supporting case studies. Professor Wang invented the “Model of Interactions of Parties in the Process of Environmental Protection” (IPPEP) to demonstrate the actors and requisites for successful environmental law implementation, which he then translated into Chinese and presented to China’s environmental agencies.

These efforts helped support the important decision by The Supreme People’s Court that came into effect on January 7, 2015, authorizing independent NGOs and public interest groups to sue polluters and violators nationwide in already-established environmental courts.

Developing the Global Judicial Institute for the Environment (GJIE)

Specialist Group member Professor Nicholas Robinson of Pace Law School, in collaboration with WCEL Chair, Justice Antonio Benjamin, as well as various other WCEL members and partners, is developing the initiative long in the making to create a Global Judicial Institute for the Environment to educate judges on the legal issues involved in environmental challenges on which they may be called to decide.


  1. Research innovative renewable energy financing mechanisms being used worldwide
  2. Research innovative worldwide climate change adaptation programs
  3. Develop a partnership between IUCN and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi
  4. Continue to work in China to assist the country in reducing its dependence on fossil fuels through energy efficiency and renewable energy
  5. Contribute to new IUCN Climate Change Task Force formulating IUCN positions on climate change.
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