Climate change effect on tree, grass, earth

(New podcast added December 20, 2023)

The need for effective climate action is clear. However, progress is slow and the window of opportunity to avoid the worst impacts of climate change is closing. To address the opportunity from a legal perspective, Queen’s Law brought together legal scholars from Canada and the U.S. for a December 1-2 conference titled “Institutions for Effective Climate Action: An International & Comparative Perspective.”  

The main objectives of this research exchange were threefold: to generate a better understanding of how legal institutions may be contributing to lagging climate action across a range of key policy areas; to develop strategies for ways legal institutions might be better leveraged to enhance climate action; and to create community and research connections.  

Podcasts of conference presentations by some panellists from each of the six panels are set out below.  

Credible Climate Commitments & Accountability

  • Professor Andrew Green (U of T) examines the interplay between time and climate action, focusing on how policies and legal rules influence who has a say in the pace and stringency of action.
  • Professors Alyssa King (Queen’s Law) and Jonathan R. Nash (Emory) examine, compare, and contrast climate change nuisance litigation brought against petroleum producers in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Professor Erik Knutsen (Queen’s Law) explores green insurance claims and how liability insurers can propel climate change action.
  • Listen to podcasts of the presentations by Professors Green, King, Nash, and Knutsen. 

Climate Change Equity & Distributive Effects

  • Professor Josephine van Zeben, (Wageningen University Dept. of Law) presented “Just’ green transition: lessons from the EU’s Green Deal.” 
  • Professor Monika U. Ehrman (SMU Dedman School of Law) examined an equitable energy transition on Native American lands. 
  • Professor Sébastien Jodoin (McGill Law) discussed the impacts of climate policy on individuals with disabilities.” 

Listen to podcasts of the presentations by Professors Ehrman and Jodoin. 

Adapting Communities for Climate Extremes

  • Associate Dean Cherie Metcalf (Queen’s Law) discussed crucial factors for a successful climate adaptation policy on extreme climate risk, given institutional and perceptual/political barriers.  
  • Professor Stephanie M. Stern (U Arizona Law) presented a “climate homesteading” framework of relocation incentives.
  • Professor Katrina Wyman (NYU Law) presented her paper on “Adaptation federalism.” 

Listen to a podcast of Associate Dean Metcalf’s presentation. 

Addressing Ecological Risks

  • Professor Lindsay Borrows (Queen’s Law) discussed how Indigenous legal institutions are an important part of climate law and policy. 
  • Professor Arden Rowell (Illinois Urbana-Champagne College of Law) explored building psychologically informed climate institutions. 
  • Professor Sophie Thériault (U Ottawa) examined moving towards a just energy transition for Indigenous peoples. 

Listen to a podcast of their presentations.

Climate Change in the North

Professor Élise Devoie (Queen’s Civil Engineering) presented a prediction and an observation on this topic and discusses climate change mitigation and adaption. 

Listen to a podcast of Professor Devoie’s presentation. 

Panel 2: Transforming Energy Infrastructure 

  • Professor Joshua Macey (Chicago Law) explored the outsourcing of energy market design; 
  • Professor Mark Winfield (York Environment & Urban Change) addressed key opportunities for, and barriers to a sustainable energy transition for Canada; and 
  • Professor Vanessa Casado Perez (Texas A&M Law) spoke about public/private institutions that can improve the country’s responses in climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

Listen to a podcast of presentations by Professors Macey, Winfield, and Casado Perez. 

Panel I: Pricing & Trading Emissions

  • Professor Hajin Kim (Chicago Law) discussed whether market mechanisms undercut demand for environmental protection; 
  • Professor Rory Gillis (Western Law) explored carbon pricing and tax floor mechanisms in federal nations; and 
  • Professor Shi-Ling Hsu (Florida State University College of Law) reviewed carbon pricing. 

Listen to a podcast of presentations by Professors Kim and Gillis. 


The conference was organized by Professor Cherie Metcalf, Associate Dean (Research) at Queen’s Law, and relates to her broader research agenda on climate change. Further information about panellists and their topics are also posted on this website. 

The event, held in the Donald Gordon Conference Centre in Kingston, was co-sponsored by Texas A&M’s Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resources Systems program, Emory Law’s Centre for Federalism and Intersystemic Governance, and financially supported by Queen’s Law and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 

Podcasts are available via QLAW POD