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"Flattening the Curve" – COVID-19 and Climate Change

Everyone has now heard of "flattening the curve," the call for collective action to limit the worst effects of COVID-19. Advocates of climate action have begun to note the uncanny similarities between unchecked climate change and the pandemic, including the challenges brought by exponential growth, increased public awareness of the problem, and the imperative of a unified public response. Pandemics know no boundaries, and neither do the effects of climate change. Both pandemics and climate change have the most impact on vulnerable communities; but ultimately they affect us all. Both jeopardize the safety, well-being and inherent dignity of those affected.  And both trigger legal and ethical obligations of governments and the private sector to protect and safeguard the civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights that pandemics and climate change threaten equally. Because climate change, like COVID-19, is a global problem with local consequences, addressing it will require a collaborative and coordinated set of solutions implemented locally, nationally, regionally and internationally. Attorneys have a major role to play by writing and advocating for meaningful change. In this webinar, speakers described the lessons COVID-19 has taught us about the need for an effective global response; and they identified a variety of legal actions governments and the private sector must take to "flatten the curve" and keep the worst effects of climate change at bay.

Welcome and Introduction

  • Judy Perry Martinez, President, American Bar Association; Of Counsel, Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn


  • Sara C. Bronin, Thomas F. Gallivan Chair in Real Property Law, University of Connecticut School of Law; Faculty Director, Center for Energy & Environmental Law, University of Connecticut School of Law
  • Michael Gerrard,  Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia Law School; Faculty Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
  • Tracey M. Roberts, Associate Professor of Law, Cumberland School of Law
  • Adam Zipkin, Legislative Counsel, U.S. Senator Cory Booker


  • Lisa Benjamin, Assistant Professor of Law, Lewis & Clark Law School

Co-Sponsor: Environmental Law Institute


Transcript: "Flattening the Curve" – COVID-19 and Climate Change

What the Pandemic Can Teach Climate Attorneys by Sara C. Bronin
Stanford Law Review Online, Vol. 72 | May 2020

City of Hartford Climate Action Plan

Connecticut's "Desegregate" Movement

2019 University of Washington Study on "Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial-ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure"

2019 UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Climate Change

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