Richard Ottinger: 2017 ABA Environmental Distinguished Achievement Award

Long-time WCEL Member Richard Ottinger has received the 2017 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy from the American Bar Association.

Dick Ottinger receives ABA Award 2017The ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy and Resources honored Richard Ottinger for his lifelong leadership in environmental law and policy during its annual meeting on 13 August, 2017. The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law joined him receiving the corresponding award for organizational leadership. Ottinger served as member of the United States House of Representatives for 20 years, including chairing the Energy Conservation and Power Subcommittee. He then became professor at Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law (White Plains, NY), served as Dean of the school, founded the Pace Energy & Climate Center, and remains co-director of the university’s Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies. With high compliments, he volunteered his leadership and expertise to serve as Chair and Vice-Chair of the WCEL Energy and Climate Specialist Group for many years. He is also a leading advocate of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law since having organized the first Academy Colloquium in 2003 under the theme “Energy for Sustainable Development” hosted by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

With Adrian Bradbrook, Richard Ottinger was a foremost advocate in the 1990’s to get WCEL more involved in climate change and energy issues related to sustainable development. Through his initiative, IUCN was a co-sponsor of “Clean Energy 2000” in Geneva giving impulse to an action plan on the legal aspects of biodiversity and climate change for IUCN’s strategic planning on biodiversity. Furthermore, active engagement at the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development brought energy issues in environmental law to the fore as part of the agenda for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The Energy and Climate Change Specialist Group drew focus over the last 17 years to the mitigation of climate change as essential to IUCN’s mission, especially the law and policy dimensions of energy use, efficiency, and renewables. In close collaboration with the UN system, including work with UNEP, UNDP, and UNDESA, the Specialist Group assisted with promoting the World Energy Assessment, and driving implementation plans through regional briefings, seminars, forums, and the provision of training and materials. Concurrently, the team under Ottinger has contributed to IUCN’s leadership in the field with a number of publications. Energy Law and Sustainable Development covers a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives on how energy law, if updated and overhauled, could contribute to sustainable development. The UNEP Handbook for Drafting Laws on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources was prepared in response to needs expressed by legal drafters in developing countries and presented as a user-friendly guide with emphasis on adaptation to local country needs and conditions. The UNEP Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Laws is now available as an update to the Handbook; highlighting existing issues, presenting legislative options, and providing samples from legislation.

Much of Richard Ottinger’s efforts in recent years have focused on the rule of law in reducing air pollution, coupled with promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency. Of special note, the Beijing-Los Angeles Air Pollution Study is nearing completion. This is a major study comparing decades of efforts made in Los Angeles, California and those now being undertaken in Beijing, China. He also continues to engage with leading scholars and institutions, such as convening a side event during the 2017 UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development discussing renewable energy as cost-effective and readily available electricity essential for accomplishing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  


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