A contingent from UConn School of Law joined an international gathering of students and academics recently in Scotland to discuss "The Just Transition Towards a Low-Carbon Economy - Integrating Climate, Energy, and Environmental Justice."
The conference focused on the economic feasibility and impact of the switch to renewable energy. Speakers highlighted the financial investments and policy frameworks necessary to ensure fairness while reducing carbon emission. Employing technology and access were key concerns. Many speakers said the key to a just transition includes public input in the development process and smart, widespread investments in low-carbon technologies.
UConn student April Regan said the conference lived up to the theme as the presentations focused on how to make the transition to renewable or carbon neutral energy in a way that does not alienate vulnerable groups the way traditional energy development has.
In addition to Professor Sara Bronin and Regan, five other students – Ainsley Parrish, Charles Bloom, Christopher Kelly, Christopher Finch, and Louanne Cooley – attended the two-day conference on March 1 and 2, 2018, in Edinburgh.
The conference was co-sponsored by the Center for Energy & Environmental Law at UConn School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, and UConn’s sister institution, Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society at Tilburg University, The Netherlands, as well as the following institutions: the European Commission; UK Energy Research Centre; University of St. Andrews, UK; Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee, UK; Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; and University of Michigan.
“We heard talks from giants in the field of Environmental Justice, like Dr. Robert Bullard (Texas Southern University) who gave a broad overview of the issues facing different communities around the world from energy production pollution,” Cooley said.
Dr. Giuseppe Pellegrini Masini of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies talked about the challenges of Italy’s energy grid, which is highly dependent on energy from other nations and often fails to service poorer rural communities. He said the hope is that increased investment in low-carbon development strategies and the introduction of renewable energy can increase job opportunities and energy resiliency.
The UConn group’s journey did not get off on a rosy start as its flight to Edinburgh landed an hour before a "red alert" for a once-in-a-generation blizzard and half the students lost their luggage, including suits, eyeglasses, and other essentials.
Despite the unexpected, the students were resilient and turned out an admirable performance. “I can't emphasize enough how impressed everyone was with our students, their excellent questions, their attentive presence, and their desire to build connections for UConn to the broader academic community,” Bronin said.