Skip to content

The Environmental Law and Sustainability Center at Widener University Commonwealth Law School and the Center for Environment, Energy, and Economy (E3) at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology have teamed to present a landmark legal conference on deep decarbonization for lawyers, law students, and public policy professionals at Widener Law School in Harrisburg, Pa., April 26. The event will be preceded by an evening public lecture on Thursday, April 25.

The conference, set to take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., will be preceded by a public lecture at Harrisburg University the evening of April 25. The conference, Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in Pennsylvania: What Are the Best Ways Forward?, is named after a newly published book co-edited by Michael Gerrard of Columbia Law School and John Dernbach of Widener Law CommonwealthLegal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States. 

The book contains a comprehensive description and analysis of legal tools for deep decarbonization–reducing U.S. greenhouse emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. In 35 chapters, authored by 59 experts, the book identifies more than 1,000 federal, state, local, and private legal tools for deep decarbonization.

The conference will feature a variety of expert panelists and public officials engaging with attendees on:

  • The state of climate science, and what it means
  • Climate choices and bridging divides
  • Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States
  • The state of play in Pennsylvania

Attendees will hear from experts and dialogue about the best ways forward for Pennsylvania on electricity, transportation, energy efficiency, and a just transition. The event will conclude with a discussion about what lawyers should do to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The conference will take place at Widener Law Commonwealth. 

The public lecture at Harrisburg University

The evening prior to the conference, HU’s Center for E3 will host a free lecture for the general public on The State of Climate Science, and What It Means. The event will feature two prominent expert speakers, Richard Alley, Pennsylvania State University, and Donald A. Brown, Widener Law Commonwealth, both of whom will be featured at the conference the next day. The lecture will take place in the 14th floor auditorium at Harrisburg University, 326 Market St. Harrisburg, at 6 p.m.

Alley is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and an associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State University. Alley is widely credited with showing that Earth has experienced abrupt climate change in the past—and likely will again, based on his meticulous study of ice cores from Greenland and West Antarctica. His research interests focus on glaciology, sea level change and abrupt climate change.

In recent years, he served as one of the authors on the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose members shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008.

Brown is the scholar in residence and professor of sustainability ethics and law, Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg, PA. He is a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 5th Assessment Report. Previously, he was associate professor of environmental ethics, science, and law at the Penn State University. 

Prior to that, he was an environmental lawyer for the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and program manager for UN Organizations at the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of International Environmental Policy where he represented US EPA negotiating sustainability issues at the UN including climate change, international water issues, biodiversity, and Agenda 21. His newest book, Navigating the Perfect Moral Storm, Climate Ethic, was published in 2012. He has written over 180 books, book chapters, and articles on environmental and sustainability ethics and law. He manages an award-winning web site,, which examines ethical issues that arise in climate change policy formation.

About the Book: The book is available in two forms. A Summary and Key Recommendations version of the book, with thumbnail summaries of chapters, key recommendations, and a listing of key recommendations by actor, is available at ELI Press. The complete book includes a detailed analyses of more than 1,000 recommendations for federal, state, and local governments as well as the private sector. It also includes an index of recommendations organized by actor.

326 Market St, Harrisburg, PA 17101
P: (717) 901-5100 Contact Us