Eva Scheiwe, Rudman-Peterson Fellow, ’24

On March 10, 2023, the UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law hosted a panel discussion on one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change. The event was sponsored by the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership & Public Service, the League of Conservation Voters, and The Concord Coalition. Panelists included Anne Kelly, Vice President of Government Relations for Ceres, who leads the Ceres Policy Network; Brad Campbell, President of the Conservation Law Foundation; and Pat Parenteau, Emeritus Professor of Law and Senior Fellow for Climate Policy at the Vermont Law and Graduate School. Laura Knoy, an award-winning journalist and Director of Community Engagement at the Rudman Center, moderated the discussion. The event was funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to addressing America’s long-term fiscal challenges to ensure a better economic future.  Watch the full video here

The audience included students, faculty, community members, and leaders from government, industry, and civil society. The panelists covered a wide range of topics, including the economic and budgetary costs of inaction on climate change, the opportunities for economic growth and development through climate action, and the current and future environmental regulatory landscape. They also delved into current developments at the U.S. Supreme Court, concerns of generational responsibility, and the action required by legislators, the private sector, and every individual to positively impact the planet. 

Speakers highlighted the immense opportunities for economic growth and development through climate action. Discussing the potential benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon economy, including the creation of new jobs in industries such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transportation, the panelists introduced climate change as a “dangerous opportunity.” They also emphasized the importance of investing in infrastructure and technologies that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The panelists stressed that taking action on climate change can have positive economic ripple effects beyond just the energy sector, arguing that a shift towards more sustainable practices in agriculture, forestry, and other land-use sectors, can not only help reduce emissions but also increase productivity, boost rural economies, support New England coastal ecosystems, and promote food security.

The panel shed light on the devastating impact of climate change on communities that depend on the ocean for their livelihoods. The Gulf of Maine, for instance, is among the bodies of water that are heating up the fastest worldwide; as ecosystems migrate northward in response to warming waters, vital species such as lobsters are moving away from traditional fishing grounds and towards cooler waters in Canada, causing significant economic and social disruptions,

These changes in ocean conditions also have implications for a variety of other industries, including tourism and shipping, which are critical drivers of economic growth in many coastal communities. The panelists underscored the urgent need for action to address these impacts, including investments in research and monitoring, ecosystem-based management strategies, and support for affected communities to adapt and transition to new economic opportunities.

Overall, the discussion highlighted the complex and interconnected nature of the challenges posed by climate change. While the impacts are already being felt in communities around the world, there is also reason for hope. By working together and taking action at all levels, from individual actions to global policy solutions, the panelists said, we can build a more sustainable and just future for ourselves and generations to come.