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Venue: Webinar
Date: May 25, 2021

The Energy Transition in a COVID Altered World

In early 2020, the world literally shut down when, amidst deep uncertainty, the Covid pandemic spread, cases immediately increased, and mortality rates were out of control in some countries. This situation fully illustrated the profound interconnectedness of the world, from the health system to the energy system. Just a year before, it appeared that the energy sector was accelerating its transition to a lower carbon economy.

How did world's experiences with COVID- 19 change that forecast?

The year 2020 marked the beginning of the UN Decade of Action to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030, goals that have the ambition of ensuring access to energy for all, effective response to climate change and building resilience against major crises. However, the launch has obviously been affected by the disruptive effect of Covid-19.

COVID-19 has severely paralyzed government initiatives, and many governments found themselves almost powerless in the face of a public health emergency that has turned into a global health crisis. arguably the major preoccupation of our time. In addition to the suffering from death and illness, COVID has pushed more persons into extreme poverty and is hollowing out development and the middle class.  COVID thus reminds us of the imperative need for economic recovery. Will this recovery be green, inclusive and decisive in supporting or hindering the ongoing transition?  COVID has also opened many eyes to flaws in international equity and development, and persistent racial, ethnic. and gender gaps.  Will this push the energy transition to a more just and equitable outcome?

Many countries have put in place ambitious or relatively ambitious energy policies, many private actors have recently reinforced their commitments to low-carbon energy sources, some jurisdictions—in the context of climate litigation—have reminded States of the need to comply with their international commitments or to put in place—in specific cases—energy policies or strategies that integrate resilience to climate change.

Issues for discussion: What is the state of the energy transition currently in a context of public health emergency? What is the energy landscape today in Covid times, particularly in terms of infrastructure, supply chain, and investments? What is the state of climate commitments five years after the Paris Agreement? What is the state of renewable energy today? What are the opportunities for all relevant players today? What are the trends in terms of economic recovery and subsidies? What role will the climate dispute play for an effective transition? How will Green Bonds support the transition process? What is the current state of progress in access to energy (SDG 7)? What best practices are developing in the private sector? What are the technological options and innovations that accompany the available solutions? What economic and employment opportunities are currently emerging? What are the opportunities for offshore methane hydrates or green hydrogen?


Opening remarks—Victor Flatt—University of Houston Law Center


Governing the Energy Transition: Between Momentum and Convergence of Crises
Gina Warren—University of Houston Law CenterChair.

Energy transitions in a COVID-disrupted AfricaTracy-Lynn Field—University of the Witwatersrand.

The Energy Futures Point of Inflexion: Re-nuclear with Health AssuranceSalil K. Sen—Management Development Institute of Singapore.

The Place of Nuclear Power in the Energy Transition. EU Law between Ambivalence and AmbiguityBernadette Le Baut-Ferrarese—University of Lyon 3 Jean Moulin.

The Problematic Recomposition of the Environment: The Case of Energy Transitions in the Face of the Conjunction of Crises—Louis De Fontenelle—University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour.


Governing the Energy Transition: Between Efforts, Ambitions and Diverse Approaches
Victor Flatt—University of Houston Law CenterChair.

Key Energy Transition Needs and How COVID-19 Recovery Packages are Performing—Tom Moerenhout—Columbia University.

Energy Insecurity in the United States—Sanya Carley—Indiana University.

Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and EnergyJennie C. Stephens—Northeastern University.

Non-State Actors and Climate Litigation in the Energy Transition—Alfonso Lopez de la Osa & Aubin Nzaou—University of Houston Law Center.


Closing Remarks—Alfonso Lopez de la Osa—University of Houston Law Center.

Speaker Biographies

Sanya Carley

Dr. Sanya Carley is a Paul H. O’Neill Professor and Director of the Master of Public Affairs programs at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Her research focuses on electricity and transportation policy, energy justice and a just transition, energy-based economic development, and public perceptions of energy infrastructure and technologies. She is a coeditor of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Dr. Carley has extensive consulting experience with the World Bank, RTI International, and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others. She received her Ph.D. in public policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and bachelor’s degrees in economics and sustainable development from Swarthmore College.

Tracy-Lynn Field

Tracy-Lynn Field (formerly Humby) is a full professor at the School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), and an advocate of the High Court of South Africa. Her work focuses on the law and governance of extractives-based development, climate change, water, and Earth stewardship. She is the author of State Governance of Mining, Development and Sustainability, the lead editor of Climate Change Law and Governance in South Africa, and the creator of the edX course Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage. Field has chaired the board of the Centre for Environmental Rights since 2017 and actively supports civil society organizations working to secure a climate-resilient development pathway for Africa. She is the director of the newly-established Africa Climate Justice project based at the Mandela Institute at Wits University.

Victor B. Flatt

Professor Victor B. Flatt is the Dwight Olds Chair in Law and the Faculty Co-Director of the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources (EENR) Center. He also holds an appointment as a Distinguished Scholar of Carbon Markets at the University of Houston’s Guttierez Energy Management Institute. He was previously the inaugural O’Quinn Chair in Environmental Law at UHLC from 2002-2009. He also held the inaugural Taft Distinguished Professorship in Environmental Law at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill from 2008-2017.

Professor Flatt is a recognized expert on environmental law, climate law, and energy law. His research focuses on environmental legislation and enforcement, with particular expertise in the Clean Air Act and NEPA. He is co-author of a popular environmental law casebook, and has authored more than 50 law review articles, which have appeared in journals such as the Notre Dame Law Review, Ecology Law Quarterly, Washington Law Review, Houston Law Review and the Carolina Law Review. Seven of his articles have been recognized as finalists or winner of the best environmental law review article of the year, and one was recognized by Vanderbilt University Law School and the Environmental Law Institute as one of the three best environmental articles of 2010, leading to a seminar and panel on the article in a Congressional staff briefing.

Louis de Fontenelle

Louis de Fontenelle is an Associate Professor at the University of Pau. After having spent one year in the company Terega, SNAM subsidiary and major participant in gas transportation and storage in France and in Europe, Louis joined the “Pau droit public” research team. A significant part of his work is addressed to the energy transition. Louis currently co-leads the research program dedicated to “energy law”. He is the director of the multi-stakeholder Chair E2S-UPPA “MOVE” which aims to study, from a legal point of view, sustainable mobility. He is also the scientific director of the website “Energie en Lumière” and the chairman of the Consortium “Pau droit énergie” which is a socio-economic, academic, industrial and public network, including notably the University of Laval (Canada), the University of Kelh (Germany), EDF, ENEDIS, GRDF, Terega and public authorities. He is the author of numerous papers interesting the energy law and contributes to the implementation of various collaborative research projects in links with industry (“GEFISS”, Expanded governance for subsurface engineering industries in the energy transition perspective, started in July 2018 ; RAISE 2024, new advanced rechargeable battery systems using solid electrolyte technology for the electric vehicle and the storage of renewable energies sectors).

Salil K. Sen

Salil K Sen, PhD. Salil’s career trajectory is a blend. Consulting (Energy) with Asian Development Bank, UNEP and UNESCAP, Certificate on Sustainability Practice Global Classroom from the Earth Institute at Columbia University New York.  Resource person roles on Disaster Resilience at Kyoto University. Visiting Fellow at Tsinghua University and University of International Business and Economics, Beijing. Visiting Faculty roles at the University of Redlands, Southern California. Institut Mines-Telecom Evry, France and SUMAS Geneva, Switzerland. Salil is based in Singapore. These imparted a sense of multihabitat “Living Lab” for Salil.

Salil aspires to view the energy transition through water waste energy seamlessness. This is manifested as Sustainability action-pathways of Rurbanization, Infra-sdg-ructure and Innov-engage. These configured Salil’s value  proposition as, W W E_Own = “We Own”, wherein, W W E_Own is Water Waste Energy linked infrastructure  Interestingly it is also, "We Own", the proactive, entrepreneurial alignment among policymakers, responsible financiers, services, processors, and grassroots-up community.

'What We Own, We take care' essentially drives Salil’s lifelong learning as an enabler and facilitator instilling participants and students to being a part of the solution. 

Salil evolved through Industrial Engineering, Productivity services and Project Management with Tata Motors, Larsen & Toubro with Caterpillar associate company, Alfa Laval India, India Spain start up agri-exports and with the second largest distributor of Cummins in Nigeria. The actionable as well as bankable insights gained are on diffusion of innovation, right-sizing, waste recovery.

Salil’s paper on The Energy futures point of inflexion: RE-nuclear with health assurance adds to the conversation on The Energy Transition in a Health-Constrained World. RE-nuclear is renewable safeguarded nuclear energy infrastructure.  

Bernadette Le Baut-Ferrarese

Bernadette Le Baut-Ferrarese is a full Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law at Jean Moulin University Lyon 3. She is a member of the Centre for European Studies (CEE) and a fellow of the Comparative, European and International Law Team (EDIEC) at Jean Moulin University Lyon 3 (France). She is also a research associate at the Pau-Public Law Research Centre at the University of Pau and the Adour Countries (UPPA). Over the past fifteen years, Bernadette Le Baut-Ferrarese has been conducting research on energy transition law and policy. She has written several books and articles on issues relating to the topic, such as the reference books entitled "Renewable Energy Law" (2008) and "Renewable Energy Law Treaty" (2012), published by Le Moniteur. In addition to the doctoral thesis juries she served on, she has supervised a Ph.D. candidate and collective works on renewable energy law in the European context. Professor Le Baut-Ferrarese teaches European law, general public law, and energy law at Jean Moulin University Lyon 3, the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Lyon and the University of Bourgogne. She works as co-director of the Master of European Business Law and director of the Master of Global Climate Change Law she created (2019) at Jean Moulin University Lyon 3. She holds a Ph.D. in public law from Jean Moulin University Lyon 3 (1996) and was awarded the Accreditation to supervise research (2011). Bernadette Le Baut-Ferrarese participates in many projects and collective networks, such as the Pau Energy Law Consortium (France).

Alfonso Lopez de la Osa Escribano

Alfonso Lopez de la Osa Escribano is the Director of the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law and Adjunct Faculty at the University of Houston Law Center since 2017. Professor of Administrative Law at the University Complutense of Madrid in Spain for ten years, and Associate Professor of Public Law at the University of Pau et des Pays de l’Adour for two years, his research and teaching focuses on comparative and international law aspects, European union Law, and Public Law (from Energy and Environmental Law, to Health and Public Health Law aspects).

He got his Law Degree and Master in European Union Law by the University Complutense of Madrid. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, in France, following his Doctoral Diploma on Droit public comparé des Etats Européens (Public Comparative Law in European countries) by this same University.

His thesis versed on a comparative study of public liability legal systems, and how they were converging, affecting specifically hospitals in France and Spain. He received Magna Cum Laudae. During his doctoral studies he worked for two years as a Parliamentary Assistant on Public Law matters (on the Telecommunications European Commission Package) to a Member of the European Parliament in Brussels.

He regularly participates in numerous conferences and seminars internationally, and he is often invited as Visiting Professor in Universities in France, Spain and Mexico. He is the author of a book, and editor and author of chapters in several collective books and numerous articles. He is a practicing lawyer at the Madrid Bar, in Spain since 1999 with a very successful track record both in litigation and settlement, with a pragmatically and imaginative way of suggesting applying the law.

Tom Moerenhout

Tom Moerenhout, PhD, is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a resident scholar at SIPA’s Center on Global Energy Policy. He also leads the energy subsidy program at Johns Hopkins’ Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy. He holds two master degrees and a PhD at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. In 2017-2018, he was visiting fellow at the LSE Department of Government, in 2016-2017 he was the Aramco-OIES fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and in 2015-2016 he was a Fulbright fellow at Columbia University.
Tom’s research expertise and practical engagements focus on international affairs, political economy and international economic law. Tom’s main expertise lies in the role of trade, investment and subsidy policies in sustainable development, the sustainability dimension of economic globalization and resource valuation & regulation. He has published extensively on sustainable development and energy policy reforms, and supports a more proactive integration of behavioral psychology into development policy and reform programs.
Since 2010, Tom has also worked for the Geneva-based Global Subsidies Initiative of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. As a Senior Associate, he has managed development projects with and for various organizations such as the World Bank, the OECD, OPEC, IRENA, UNEP, ADB, GIZ, Nestle and Greenpeace. He has also consulted for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institute for Development Studies and the Policy Practice. In recent years, Tom has provided practical, in-country support to energy and development policy reforms in Lebanon, India, Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Aubin Nzaou-Kongo

Aubin Nzaou-Kongo is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow in Law and Energy Policy. Researcher at the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources (EENR) Center, and at the Center of U.S. and Mexican Law at the University of Houston Law Center (U.S.), where he conducts research on energy transition law and climate policy. He is also an Assistant Professor of Law at the School of Law at the University of Lyon 3 (Lyon, France), where he is a researcher at the Centre for European Studies (CEE), and a member of the Research Group on Comparative, European and International Law (EDIEC).

Prior to joining the University of Houston Law Center, Dr. Aubin Nzaou-Kongo was an Assistant Professor of Law at the School of Law, Economics and Management at the University of Nîmes (Nimes, France), and a member of the research group on Detection, Evaluation, Management of Chronic and Emerging Risks (CHROME) as well as a faculty at the Department of Law and Economics. He is a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Guinea—Lansana Conte University—(Conakry, Guinea), and was previously a Visiting Professor at Senghor University (Alexandria, Egypt), and a Lecturer at the University of Lyon 2—Lumiere University—School of Law (Lyon, France), as well a Visiting Scholar at the Research Center for Environmental and Urban Planning Law (SERES), and fellow at the Interdisciplinary Research Institute for Legal Science at the Catholic University of Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium).

He earned his PhD in Public International Law at the University of Lyon 3, and an LLM in International Law at the University of Limoges before completing a Postgraduate Program in Sustainability Studies at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge and in Public Policy Design at Harvard University.

Jennie C. Stephens

Jennie C. Stephens, PhD, is the Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.  She is also the Director for Strategic Research Collaborations at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute, and is affiliated with the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the department of Cultures, Societies & Global Studies.

Her research, teaching, and community engagement focus on integrating social justice, feminist, and anti-racist perspectives into climate and energy resilience, social and political aspects of the renewable energy transition, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, energy democracy, gender in energy and climate, and climate and energy justice. Her unique transdisciplinary approach integrates innovations in social science and public policy with science and engineering to promote social justice, reduce inequalities and redistribute power (electric power, economic power and political power). In her book Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and Energy published by Island Press in 2020, she argues that effectively addressing climate change requires diversifying leadership, redistributing wealth and power, and moving beyond mainstream male-dominated technocratic solutions to climate change. Throughout her career she has explored institutional and cultural innovation in the energy sector, including gender diversity, energy democracy, and technological optimism as well as the “usability” of climate science in climate resilience efforts.

Professor Stephens was a 2015-2016 Leopold Leadership fellow, and her book “Smart Grid (R)Evolution: Electric Power Struggles” (Cambridge University Press, 2015) explores social and cultural debates about energy system change (co-authored with Wilson & Peterson). Before coming to Northeastern, Professor Stephens was on the faculty at the University of Vermont (2014-2016) and Clark University (2005-2014). She did post-doctoral research at Harvard’s Kennedy School and she has taught courses at Tufts, Boston University, and MIT. She earned her PhD at the California Institute of Technology in Environmental Science & Engineering and her BA at Harvard University in Environmental Science and Policy.

More information

Gina S. Warren

Professor Gina S. Warren is the Faculty Co-Director of the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources (EENR) Center. She joined the Law Center in 2016, teaching Property, Energy Law & Policy, Renewable Energy Law, International Energy Law, Oil & Gas. Previously she taught Oil & Gas, Energy Law, Climate Change & Energy, Natural Resources Law, and Civil Procedure at the Texas A&M University School of Law (2011-2016) as well as Energy Law and Civil Procedure at Duquesne University School of Law (2010-2011). She has also taught internationally at the University of Cologne in Cologne, Germany and in coordination with the University of Guanajuato in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Her research explores the role of policy and regulation in the area of sustainable energy, with a focus on renewable energy, climate change, and distributed generation. Warren has published nearly a dozen scholarly articles on energy-related topics in such prominent journals as the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, the Nebraska Law Review, the Maryland Law Review, the Pittsburgh Law Review, the Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, the Rutgers Law Journal, and the University of Cologne (Germany) Business Law Journal. Her scholarship has been cited by the Colorado Supreme Court and was showcased by the Washington Post. Warren’s work has also been excerpted in a prominent energy and renewable energy textbooks.

She is the past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Natural Resources and Energy Law and has served for the last several years on the section's sub-committees. Professor Warren has also served on many other committees and boards in her career, including being the law school representative for the Institute for Energy Law and advisory board member for the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators.

Professor Warren was in private practice for several years prior to entering academia. She worked as a litigator in energy and utility law for the international law firm of Perkins Coie based in Seattle, Washington as well as a litigator in a prominent regional firm Post & Schell based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Professor Warren also completed a clerkship for the Honorable Michael Winkelstein of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey.

She is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington.