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MAP’s Phil Goldberg Participates in Georgetown Business School Panel on Addressing Climate Change Strategies

A menu of public policy options and private sector-led solutions exist to reduce carbon emissions. That was the central takeaway according to a panel of experts who participated in a May 18th panel hosted by the Georgetown University Center for Business and Public Policy. The panel, which included speakers with legal, legislative, and regulatory backgrounds, discussed the most efficient and effective ways to address global climate change while protecting the nation’s economic interests.

The panel, titled “Assessing the Portfolio of Strategies to Address Climate Change: Legislative, Legal, Regulatory, and Diplomatic,” featured MAP Special Counsel Phil Goldberg, who criticized municipal climate litigation as a means to reduce emissions. He was joined by former Louisiana Congressman Charlie Melançon, former EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe, and Georgetown University Law School professor William Buzbee. Bill Bumpers, former head of the Global Climate Practice at Baker Botts, moderated the panel. 

Perciasepe kicked off the conversation by noting that the private sector is taking a leading role in driving innovation and technological advancements that benefit the environment. He noted the movement toward green energy is moving fast with the U.S. already powering utilities with 40 percent of renewable energy, such as wind and solar. Continuing to find ways to power homes and the economy, according to him, requires regulation that works with the private sector, not against it.

The importance of Congressional leadership was highlighted by former Democratic Congressman Melançon, who argued landmark laws, such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (2021) and the Inflation Reduction Act (2022), are promising measures to spur significant investments for climate action. As a former congressman, Melançon noted legislating on climate and other issues can be frustrating and time-consuming, but one that must be tackled in a bipartisan and deliberate way. He also emphasized that no one was confused or deceived about the causes of climate change, which are counter to allegations made by municipalities suing on the grounds of deception. 

Professor Buzbee emphasized this cooperation between governments at all levels and with the private sector, particularly when it comes to regulations and incentives for the energy industry to lower domestic emissions. The Inflation Reduction Act, he noted, is not perfect but it is the best approach and vehicle we’ve had to date that can reduce emissions.

In his remarks, Goldberg agreed on the importance of meaningfully addressing climate change through innovation and expressed concern that this progress could be stunted by climate litigation against energy producers. He explained that courts are not a proper venue to address the threat of climate change and noted that is why climate lawsuits have been dismissed in the federal courts. In response to comments by Perciasepe, Goldberg cautioned that the litigation will raise the price of energy, irrespective of the ability of families and businesses to pay or impact on American competitiveness or national security. That is why, Goldberg continued, setting America’s energy policy to deal with climate impacts must be resolved in Congress and regulatory agencies, not the courts.

Overall, there was broad consensus that the private sector and government need to work together and make a difference to solve this issue.

A replay of the webinar can be viewed here: