Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics Newsletter

Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics Newsletter: Friday, July 17, 2015

Message From The Director

Victor Flatt In March, CLEAR co-hosted an amazing workshop with the Georgetown Climate Center, the Emmett Center for Environmental Law (UCLA), the EPA, and NOAA concerning the best methods to require disclosure of data on climate risk from insurance. (For more, see feature article below). We sought to address the question of whether insurance company analysis of climate risk could act as a catalyst to prod private companies to make better climate change adaptation decisions. While all in attendance had differing viewpoints on this ultimate question, it was clearly important to gather folks from disparate organizations and entities in the same room. Without these discussions, we will continue to talk past each other, and accomplish little.

CLEAR seeks to continue its role of facilitating dialogue about the important issues of the day on climate, the environment, energy, and economics, while it provides major education opportunities for UNC Law students. I hope you all enjoy the newsletter.

Featured Article

CLEAR, Climate Centers Propose Changes to Insurance Structure and Regulation

CLEAR, UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate and the Environment, and NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS) North Carolina have released a white paper detailing findings about insurance and climate change. Based on a two-day workshop held in March with representatives from academia, insurance companies, state insurance regulators, federal climate data providers, private sector representatives and other government agencies, the forum was designed to examine the desirability and utility of government (particularly insurance commissioners) requiring insurance companies to disclose risks related to climate data.

The workshop included presentations on the federal government's role in climate change adaptation, climate data quality and availability, risk data and community vulnerability, private sector needs, the importance of the messenger in climate information, the role of the insurance commissioner, the current market for reinsurance of statewide risk related to climate, and the effectiveness of the current insurance climate survey data.

Five common issues were raised during the workshop:

  1. the government has played an important role in altering market incentives to consider risk
  2. the uses of risk information need to be clarified
  3. metrics
  4. the temporal mismatch between climate risk and most insurance products
  5. the role of state insurance commissioners.

The white paper reiterates prior findings concerning the maladaptive impact of federal and state government regulation on private sector climate change adaptation, and also found that there is a mismatch in insurance products and climate risk that has not been addressed by the private market. To address the concerns, the white paper proposes recommendations to insurance regulators to improve climate change adaptation in the insurance industry and related sectors. These specifically include that the purposes of insurance company climate risk disclosure be better clarified and tailored to be used to influence private sector adaptation if possible, and that state insurance commissioners have better access to climate data in order to better negotiate risk pricing regulation.

While not all of the more than 30 attendees could agree, the conversation over the two days moved an important conversation forward.

Recent News

Support our Environmental Appellate Advocacy Moot Court teams!

Carolina Law has two Environmental Appellate Advocacy Moot Court teams; one which participates in the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition at Pace University School of Law in White Plains, NY, the other which participates in the National Energy and Sustainability Moot Court Competition at West Virginia University School of Law in Charleston, WV. We are looking for attorneys and/or law firms willing to help moot (which can also be done via Skype for those not local) for both teams. If interested, please contact Heather Payne at hepayne@email.unc.edu.

2015 Moot Court team
Front row: Sawyer Lucy, Laura Kessler. Back row: Professor Flatt, Chris Hodgson, Dan Hemme, Patrick VanderJeugdt.

Sustainability Starts in Small Ways

In February, 2015, the Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources (CLEAR) provided all law school faculty and staff with CLEAR mugs that can be reused for hot or cool drinks. Additional mugs are being made available for the use of guests. While a small step, CLEAR hopes that this will help reduce the use of plastic water bottles for the law school’s meetings and functions.

University's New Strategic Sustainability Plan Under Development

UNC's Sustainability Office is gathering input to inform the new Strategic Sustainability Plan. With work having started in spring 2015, the goal is to have a new Strategic Sustainability Plan by October. In addition to town hall meetings, surveys, and spot interviews around campus, the plan is being informed by six working groups. Professor Flatt is on the Environment and Resources working group, while Heather Payne is serving on the Innovations for Change working group. Updates and more information available from the Sustainability Office.

New Scholars Profiled!

Since our last newsletter, CLEAR has profiled William Funk (February 2015), Hope Babcock (March 2015), Josh Eagle (April 2015), A. Dan Tarlock (May 2015), Cinnamon P. Carlarne (June 2015), and David Dana (July 2015). Keep up to date by going to our Scholars page or by liking CLEAR on Facebook or following us on Twitter, where the new profile is posted monthly. We're also now on Instagram - @UNCCLEAR.

University of Washington Environmental Scholars Workshop

Both Victor Flatt and Heather Payne will be attending the University of Washington Environmental Scholars Workshop in July. Professor Flatt has been asked to be a Senior Scholar. Ms. Payne was accepted as a Junior Scholar, and will be presenting a paper on regulatory frameworks.


For more information, please visit http://www.law.unc.edu/centers/clear/ or e-mail clear@unc.edu.