Skip Navigation

Website Sections



Climate Legacy Initiative

People walking through a field.

About Us

Program Description

The Climate Legacy Initiative (CLI), an externally funded joint project of the Environmental Law Center of Vermont Law School and the UI Center for Human Rights at The University of Iowa, was established in March 2007 to research and promote legal doctrines, principles, and rules appropriate for recognition by courts, legislatures, administrative agencies, and private sector institutions to safeguard present and future generations from harms resulting from global climate change and other severe environmental threats. To this end, convinced that lawyers have a vital role to play in defining and promoting intergenerational justice in these settings, it took upon itself to ask and answer two interdependent questions:

  1. What national and international doctrines, principles, and rules of law protect the rights of present and future generations from harms likely to result from global warming?
  2. What national and international doctrines, principles, and rules of law establish the duties of current-day actors to protect present and future generations from harms likely to result from global warming?
The answers to these two questions—involving U.S. federal and state law (environmental and non-environmental), tribal/indigenous peoples law, foreign law, and international environmental and human rights law—are now detailed in the CLI Policy Paper released to the general public on April 1, 2009 (see “Recalibrating the Law of Humans with the Laws of Nature: Climate Change, Human Rights, and Intergenerational Justice”). The Policy Paper is intended for both public and private sector policy-makers (state, federal, and international), as well as jurists, scholars, civil society activists, faith-based organizations, and others concerned to ensure an ecological legacy for our children and future generations that is respectful and just. Current efforts are concentrated on implementing the recommendations proposed in the Policy Paper.

Read more >>