CALL FOR PAPERS Regulating the Energy Transition: Issues at the Intersection of Energy and Environmental Law
WORKSHOP ANNOUNCEMENT AND CALL FOR PAPERS
Regulating the Energy Transition:
Issues at the Intersection of Energy and Environmental Law
All Souls College, University of Oxford, 30 June-1 July 2016
In the face of climate change and severe energy poverty, our energy systems find themselves
at a critical point of transition. Legal frameworks at the international, domestic and regional
levels have an important but as yet under-examined role to play in this process.
There is worldwide consensus on the urgent need for deep cuts in carbon emissions in order
to avoid the disastrous ecological and social effects of climate change. The recently adopted
Paris Agreement on climate change aims to hold “the increase in the global average
temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the
temperature increase to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and
impacts of climate change.”1
the “right to development” of the world’s poor. As the single greatest source of carbon
emissions, the energy sector will need to undergo fundamental change at all scales to ensure
equitable access to clean and secure energy in response to this three-fold ecological,
economic and equity crisis. Some change is already underway thanks to efforts to limit
carbon emissions and promote low-carbon technologies at national, regional and international
While this has spurred investigation and inquiry in the areas of science, technology and
economics, the role of law in this transition has been relatively unexamined2
international and domestic law has tended to treat energy and the environment as two discrete
and separate areas of practice and research. Traditionally, energy law is concerned with
securing energy supply and regulates the exploitation of natural resources for generation,
energy transmission and distribution. On the other hand, the object of environmental law is
the protection of the environment from the adverse impacts of human activities while
promoting sustainable development. This siloed approach is outdated in the face of ever-
growing overlap and interconnection between the two areas. There is pressing need to
interrogate the issues emerging at the intersection of energy and environmental law and to
consider the extent to which these fields should seek to develop integrated approaches to
For example, in the quest to transition to low-carbon energy systems, we must consider how
to account for the environmental impacts of new energy sources (e.g. biofuels and shale oil
and gas), expanding energy frontiers (e.g. oil drilling in the Arctic), and novel extraction
methods (e.g. hydraulic fracturing) and technologies (e.g. offshore wind farms and energy
storage). Similarly, as countries move away from traditional models of centralized production
and distribution based on burning fossil fuels to systems with decentralized and intermittent
renewable energy technology, new forms of regulation will be required. Indeed for many
developing countries, these new models present an opportunity to circumvent the costly
investment required for conventional energy transmission infrastructure and to improve
energy access at the household level through solar panels and cookers. In turn, law has a role
1 Paris Agreement, article 2(1).
2 The organisers acknowledge early work in the field such as D. Zillman et al Beyond the carbon economy
At the same time, improving energy access is indispensable to
to play in strengthening the resilience of existing and new energy infrastructure to the impacts
of current and future climate change for energy security.
This event, to be held at All Souls College, University of Oxford, on Thursday, 30 June and
Friday, 1 July 2016, will build on existing scholarship and foster dialogue among scholars
and practitioners over the growing intersection between international/transnational energy
and environmental law in the energy transition. The workshop is being organised by the
Oxford Law Faculty, the University of Minnesota Law School and Energy Transition Lab
and Melbourne Law School, together with the American Society of International Law
The workshop is intended to bring together leading academic thinkers together with key
stakeholders to consider questions at the cutting edge of law, policy and practice at the
intersection of the environmental and energy fields. It is hoped that the papers presented and
discussions held at the workshop will foster novel, cross-cutting international
energy/environmental law scholarship.
Call for papers
In addition to several invited speakers for each panel at the workshop, the organizers are
issuing an open call for papers on the themes to be addressed at the workshop, including:
- What do Paris Agreement and international efforts to address energy poverty mean for the
growing intersection between international energy and environmental law?
- How does international law interface with domestic law with regard to environmental
issues emerging from new energy sources and technologies?
- What is the role of international and transnational law in the context of grid
- How is law to regulate the environmental impacts associated with the development and
exploitation of offshore energy sources?
- How can law and legal processes such as litigation be used to spur the energy transition in
developed and developing countries?
- What are some of the emerging issues and challenges at the intersection of energy and
Interested persons should submit abstracts of no more than 500 words for papers addressing
one of the panel themes, along with a CV. The organizers are particularly interested in well-
developed proposals that could be refined following the workshop into papers for publication.
We also aim to have a diverse set of participants from multiple countries and perspectives,
including people at multiple stages of career.
Abstracts should be submitted to Catherine Redgwell (email@example.com),
11 March 2016 to be guaranteed consideration. Speakers selected from the open call will be
kindly expected to submit a draft of their paper no later than 31 May 2016 to allow
circulation to other workshop participants.
Successful applicants will be asked to cover their own travel costs, however, all meals at the
workshop will be supplied and the workshop organizers have arranged a block hotel booking
in Oxford at a competitive rate for workshop participants.