Vermont Law School
COP23/CMP13 Observer Delegation Course
November 6 – 17, 2017
In this limited enrollment class, students at Vermont Law School have the opportunity to learn about international climate change law and policy through both theory and first-hand observation. Selected students do applied learning in international environmental law by representing VLS as a non-governmental observer delegation at the annual Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The delegation is led by Professor Tracy Bach. Student delegates are enrolled in VLS’s juris doctor and masters programs, including the MELP, MERL, and LLM degrees, and come from both our residential and distance learning programs.
The three-credit course is organized around two components: a weekly class for the full semester and one week of onsite experiential learning at COP23, which will be held in Bonn from November 6 – 17, 2017. Classwork covers a range of topics, from the underlying theory and practice of public international law focused on environmental problem solving to specific topics covered by the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, notably mitigation and adaptation strategies, land use and REDD+, and climate finance. While onsite at the COP, VLS delegation members attend official sessions and side events, follow negotiation issues, and blog about their observations and analyses. VLS students also engage in service learning by supporting a least developed country (LDC) delegation in the COP negotiations through pre-COP briefing memos, COP session note taking, and daily briefings. In these ways, students in this hybrid classroom/experiential course come away from it with an understanding of international environmental lawmaking informed by direct experience.