About Us

The Sabin Center develops legal techniques to combat the climate crisis and advance climate justice, and trains the next generation of leaders in the field. 

The Sabin Center is an affiliated center of the Columbia Climate School, and frequently collaborates with their scientists on cutting edge interdisciplinary research. Center faculty and staff are deeply involved in the development of the Climate School at multiple levels and with governmental, nongovernmental and academic organizations. Our activities are spearheaded by Michael Gerrard, Faculty Director of the Sabin Center and Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School, and Michael Burger, Executive Director of the Sabin Center and Senior Research Scholar at Columbia Law School, and Romany Webb, Deputy Director and Associate Research Scholar at Columbia Law School

For more information, view our latest annual report

For more information on our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism Plan, it is available here

The Challenge

Solving the climate change problem requires profound changes in the behavior of governments, corporations, nonprofit institutions and individuals around the world. A complex legal structure is needed to induce and manage these alterations. While environmental and energy law are at the center of this structure, many other areas of law play important roles—corporate, securities, real estate, property, international trade, intellectual property, tax, human rights, contracts, criminal, and others.

Domestic legislation and international agreements leave many key questions to the implementation of new laws and regulations. Developing the international regime and national framework laws, and working out these questions, solving the operational problems, and pushing through the needed behavioral changes—through legal compulsion, where necessary—is one of the most critical global projects of our time.

An effective legal response to climate change requires the intensive attention of dedicated lawyers who understand the profound implications of what might seem like subtle differences in statutory or regulatory language, who understand the ways that the law can be applied to address this global threat, and who are not beholden to any corporation, industry, or other interest group or political constituency. The legal academy has the rare combination of expertise and independence to play an essential role here.

Our Mission

Since its creation in 2009, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School has been known as a center of expertise, providing timely information and resources on key topics and promoting advances in the interrelated fields of climate change law, environmental regulation, energy regulation and natural resources law. The core mission of the Sabin Center is to develop and promulgate legal techniques to combat the climate crisis and advance climate justice, and to train the next generation of leaders in the field. The Center is both a partner to and a resource for those engaged in climate change work, and promotes government and private sector accountability through the compilation and dissemination of information for academic and practitioner communities. 

Columbia Law School is specially situated to make fundamental contributions to the development of the legal structures needed to address climate change. As one of the world’s preeminent law schools, our faculty has unsurpassed depth in the many legal disciplines that must be harnessed to address the critical issue of climate change. This initiative benefits from great synergies with the school’s other centers and programs around Columbia University.