Time May Be Ripe for Getting More Individuals to Stop Polluting

Legal expert to argue for approach with more potential than regulations and incentives

at Pace Law School Thursday, April 17

WHITE PLAINS, NY (March 7, 2008) – Professor Hope Babcock says a significant percentage of the remaining environmental problems facing this country are caused by individual behavior like driving cars, disposing of used cell phones, thermometers, and fluorescent light bulbs in the trash, spraying pesticides on lawns and flowerbeds, and dumping waste oil down storm drains.

The bad news is that “most efforts to control individual human sources of pollution have failed.” The good news, however, is that the crisis of global climate change may be making the time right for efforts that will work.

Those efforts had better work, Babcock warns, because “we are through achieving major gains in pollution abatement from traditional sources.”

Babcock will offer her insights on the current hot topic of global climate change Thursday, April 17, 2008, at 5:00 p.m. in a Pace Law School lecture in Classroom Building 101 on the Law School campus at 78 North Broadway in White Plains. The presentation is titled, “Global Climate Change: A Civic Republican Moment.”

The event is free and open to the public. Media admission by press pass.

The former General Counsel to the National Audubon Society, Babcock teaches environmental and natural resources law at Georgetown University Law Center, where she also directs an environmental clinic. The lecture is Pace Law School’s fourteenth annual Lloyd K. Garrison Lecture on Environmental Law.

Limits of regulations and incentives. While there are many ways to change personal behavior, including command and control regulations, economic incentives like emissions trading programs or subsidies, or disincentives like taxes or fines, only changing individual and/or social norms holds out much promise, says Babcock.

Fortunately, a new environmental norm may emerge when there is congruence between an environmental crisis and heightened public awareness — what Climate Change Expert Michael Vandenbergh calls “a republican moment.” One such moment, triggered by the environmental disasters of the late 1960s and early 1970s, produced widespread public support for a variety of initiatives leading to today’s environmental laws.

Now, Babcock thinks the crisis of global climate change may be triggering another potential republican moment. To forge a new environmental norm of responsible environmental citizenship, she will argue that the heightened public awareness created by this crisis has to be broadened through public education and other means to target individual behavior.

Speaking from experience. Babcock taught environmental law at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Pace, Catholic, and Antioch law schools. Before joining Georgetown’s faculty, she was General Counsel to the National Audubon Society and Director of Audubon’s Public Lands and Waters Program, a Deputy Assistant at the U.S. Department of Interior, and practiced law in the District of Columbia. She served on the 1992 Clinton-Gore Transition Team for the Interior Department, as well as on various Environmental Protection Agency advisory committees and National Academy of Sciences committees. She is a former Chair of the Natural Resources Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools. She is a graduate of Yale Law School and Smith College.

Founded in 1976, Pace University School of Law has nearly 6,500 alumni throughout the country and the world. It offers full- and part-time day and evening JD programs on its White Plains, NY, campus. The School also offers the Master of Laws in Environmental Law and in Comparative Legal Studies and an SJD in environmental law. The School of Law is part of a comprehensive, independent, and diversified University with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu.

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