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Project Overview


Photo of Nyhavn

Copenhagen's Nyhavn, or New Harbor. Stock photo used courtesy of Cicero Kal-E.

A small group of VLS faculty and students plan to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009 to participate in the 15th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This conference is expected to be historic because it is the first time in many years that all the member nations will be brought together, and they will be negotiating the successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. The United States and China are expected to participate, and many hope that they will demonstrate a meaningful commitment to greenhouse gas reductions. In short, the world is looking to Copenhagen as the make-or-break session to determine whether we will adequately address the climate crisis.


Teresa Clemmer, Patrick Parenteau, Stephanie Farrior, Tseming Yang, Don Kreis, Laurie Beyranevand. Of this group, only Teresa and Laurie will actually be traveling to Copenhagen. Tracy Bach, who is a Fulbright Scholar in Dakar, Senegal this academic year, will also represent VLS in Copenhagen and will present at a side event; however, she is not involved in the workshop series/IRP process. Tracy Bach will be blogging about her Cop15 experiences on her blog, Simmering Senegal.


Anna Ellis, Ashley Santner, Lillian Kortlandt, Michael Cote, Dustin Brucher, Jessica Scott
All six students are planning to travel to Copenhagen for the conference.


IRP format (for credit w/letter grade); series of 6 workshops in fall; final paper submitted to faculty supervisor in spring.

Workshop Topics

Oct. 20 – Overview of UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol (Tseming Yang)
Oct. 27 – Negotiating Texts for COP15 (Pat Parenteau)
Nov. 3 – Overview of International Negotiation Process (Stephanie Farrior)
Nov. 10 – Design & Enforcement Issues for COP15 (Teresa Clemmer/ Pat Parenteau)
Nov. 17 – Energy Issues for COP15 (Guest Speaker: Ben Jervey)
Dec. 1 – Biodiversity, Forestry & Adaptation Issues for COP15 (Pat Parenteau)

Goals for Students

  • Help students learn to analyze, evaluate, and develop international environmental treaties
  • Give students the opportunity to observe and experience first-hand the historic international negotiations concerning climate change
  • Give students interested in international environmental law careers the opportunity to network abroad and develop possible future work opportunities
  • Lay groundwork for similar opportunities in future semesters so that more students can benefit than just the handful involved in this activity

Goals for Faculty

  • Enhance the work of many faculty who are already focusing on climate change issues (opportunity for networking, collaboration, etc.)
  • Develop relationship with University of Copenhagen and/or other institution(s)
  • Opportunity for faculty to distribute their scholarship and policy papers to a key audience, with an eye toward influencing important policy decisions
  • Foster more collaboration between international and environmental law faculty at VLS

Goals for VLS (Strategic Plan)

  • Increase recognition for VLS’s international law program in broader academic community
  • Promote faculty and student scholarship
  • Promote experiential learning
  • Promote career opportunities for students
  • Promote meaningful public interest work
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