Climate Solutions Living Lab

Climate Solutions Living Lab

Professor Wendy Jacobs
Spring 2019 course
W 5:00pm - 8:00pm
3 classroom credits

Note:This course meets from 5-8 pm once per week. Time is set aside during the last hour of the class each week for team break out meetings.

Prerequisites: By Permission. By Permission. Please send a statement of interest and CV to wjacobs@law.harvard.edu no later than October 15, 2018. This is a multi-disciplinary course; students will work in multi-disciplinary teams. Cross-registrants from SEAS, GSD, HKS, SPH, HBS, and GSAS are encouraged to apply.

Exam: No Exam. There will be written and oral exercises throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, each team will submit a final paper that describes and analyzes the team’s project concept, feasibility, and implementation plan. Grading will be based on the quality of class participation, team work, exercises, final paper, and presentation.

This course has a limited number of seats to be filled by advanced students from multiple disciplines (law, business, engineering, economics, design, policy, public health) who will together design and study practical solutions for reducing the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. and reducing emissions of potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) from a variety of activities other than generation of energy. The course emphasizes solutions to help low-income, under-served populations improve their living conditions with power generated by renewable sources of fuel as well as identifying innovative legal and financing pathways for such projects. In teams, we will scrutinize potential solutions from multiple perspectives (economic, technological, legal, health, etc.) for feasibility, scalability, replicability and impact (environmental, public health, social). Each team will develop a detailed implementation plan for one project; the implementation plan will identify a specific pathway for overcoming legal, financial, and policy obstacles. Examples of projects: (1) reducing potent GHG emissions from the agriculture sector – whether by technology or incentives for behavioral changes, such projects improve air and water quality as well as public health; (2) using renewable energy to achieve the goal of restoring reliable energy and clean drinking water supplies to isolated, low-income communities in Puerto Rico that were devastated by the 2017 hurricanes; (3) helping isolated, impoverished Alaska Native villages use renewable energy not only to reduce their reliance on “dirty” diesel fuel but also to grow food in hydroponic greenhouses; (4) designing a revolving renewable energy investment fund for a university that is committed to promoting renewable energy and offsetting its own emissions. Students in this class will learn how projects proceed from concept through screening, design, financing, environmental review, challenges, and permitting.

This course is practical, highly interactive, and hands-on. Faculty from other Harvard graduate schools, including the School of Public Health, the Kennedy School of Government, the Business School, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will be involved. In addition to lectures and regular team meetings, there will be opportunities to meet with experts, including financiers, technology and renewable energy developers, government representatives, leading corporations, and leading consultants. Lectures will provide background on pertinent topics including the science of GHG and air pollution; the health impacts and other co-benefits of GHG emission reductions; the laws pertaining to air pollution; electricity markets and their regulation; the siting, permitting and financing of projects; and, data collection techniques (including chemistry, data analysis, and GIS methods). Students will learn about key elements of project development and the practice of environmental law, including mechanisms for raising and resolving controversies, identifying the environmental impacts of a project, parsing and applying relevant statutes and regulations, analyzing mechanisms for mitigating project impacts and managing controversies, identifying the permits and approvals needed for a project, and identifying funding sources for project development.

Subject Areas: Environmental Law, Procedure & Practice, Regulatory Law