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December 8 | 9:00 – 10:00AM CT

Prof. Robert Percival 
Professor of Law— University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law 

On behalf of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources (EENR) Center at the University of Houston Law Center, we are delighted to announce the forthcoming events we’ll host in the frame of our virtual lecture series on Energy Transition and Climate Governance, sponsored by the EU’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, and spearheaded by Dr. Aubin Nzaou.  

Topic: Are Democracies Capable of Responding Effectively to the Climate Crisis? 

Speaker's name: Prof. Robert Percival 

Professor of Law— University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law



Robert V. Percival

Scholars have raised alarm about the decline of constitutional democracies around the world.  This trend was explored in detail in Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? an extraordinary group of essays published by Oxford University Press in 2018.  My contribution to this work was a chapter analyzing whether democracies are capable of dealing effectively with the climate crisis.  Political theory has long explored the difficulty of winning adoption of environmental policies that impose immediate costs concentrated on politically powerful entities in return for diffuse benefits accruing over extended periods of time.  The climate crisis illustrates this problem as manifested by the enormous political obstacles confronting carbon tax initiatives.

In the years since publication of Constitutional Democracy in Crisis?, global erosion of democracy has continued even as the alarming impacts of the climate crisis have become more pronounced.  This presentation will reexamine the political challenges of translating growing global concern about the climate crisis into effective solutions in the face of continued democratic erosion.  The long struggle to overcome a planetary “tragedy of the commons” has yielded mixed results as demonstrated by the Glasgow Climate Pact that emerged from COP26. In some countries the judiciary has helped combat political challenges to climate action and in others subnational governments are shaping climate policy. The presentation will review initiatives to combat democratic erosion and to overcome political obstacles to crafting effective climate policy.


Robert V. Percival is the Robert F. Stanton Professor of Law and the Director of the Environmental Law Program at the University of Maryland School of Law.  He received a B.A. summa cum laude from Macalester College, a J.D. from Stanford Law School and an M.A. in economics from Stanford University.  At Stanford Percival was named the Nathan Abbott Scholar for graduating first in his law school class.  Following graduation, he served as a law clerk for Judge Shirley M. Hufstedler of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White.  He joined the Maryland faculty in 1987 after serving as a senior attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund. Percival has served as a visiting professor of law at Harvard Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, the China University of Political Science and Law (Beijing), and Comenius University (Bratislava).  He is the principal author of the most widely-used environmental law casebook in the U.S. (Environmental Regulation: Law, Science & Policy) whose 9th edition was published in July 2021. Percival has played a leading role in conceptualizing the field of global environmental law and also is a coauthor of the casebook Comparative and Global Environmental Law and Policy.


We have a remarkable series planned for the rest of the year featuring domestic and international speakers.

Dec. 15, 2021 |9-10 AM CT
Prof. Tibisay Morgandi  
Assistant Professor of Law—Queen Mary University of London School of Law 

Jan. 20, 2022 | 10-11 am ET
Michael Livermore
University of Virginia—School of Law

Feb. 2022
Jonathan Gilligan
Vanderbilt University—Law School

Feb. 17, 2022
Cymie Payne
Rutgers University—Rutgers Law School

Mar. 10, 2022 | 10-11 am ET
Daniel Magraw
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Mar. 22, 2022 | 10-11 am ET
Michael Vandenbergh
Vanderbilt University—Law School).

Apr. 2022 | 10-11 am ET
Daniel E. Walters
Penn State Law

May 2022
Don Elliot
Yale University—Yale Law School

Jun. 2022 | 10-11 am ET
Cary Coglianese
University of Pennsylvania—Carey Law School

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