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March 22 | 9:00 – 10:00AM CT

Michael Vandenbergh
Professor of LawVanderbilt University School of Law

Speaker's Slides

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: Governance by Contract: The Growth of Environmental Supply Chain Contracting

Speaker's name: Michael Vandenbergh
Professor of LawVanderbilt University School of Law


Corporate net zero climate commitments and environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies have the potential to bypass barriers to international, national, and subnational government action on climate change and other environmental issues. But these ESG developments also raise concerns about greenwashing. This Article evaluates a particularly pernicious form of greenwashing, which could occur if a firm’s commitments extend only to its direct operations even though most of its environmental harms arise from its supply chain. The Article presents the results of a new, original empirical study that demonstrates the remarkably widespread use of environmental supply chain contracting requirements. The study finds that roughly 80% of the ten largest firms in seven global sectors include environmental requirements in supply chain contracting, a substantial increase over the 50% reported by a comparable study fifteen years ago. The Article concludes that the prevalence of environmental supply chain requirements, the types of contract requirements, and the motivations of the contracting parties can put to rest a principal greenwashing concern and signal new ways to fill important gaps in public governance. 

Michael P. Vandenbergh 

Professor Vandenbergh is the David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School, Director of the Climate Change Research Network, and Co-Director of the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program. An award-winning teacher, Professor Vandenbergh has published numerous articles and book chapters on private environmental governance and household energy use in peer-reviewed publications such as the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, Nature Climate Change, and Energy Policy, and in legal publications such as the Columbia, NYU, and Cornell law reviews. Beyond Gridlock, his article on private climate governance with physicist Jonathan Gilligan, won the Morrison Prize as the top sustainability article in North America in 2015. His book with professor Gilligan, Beyond Politics: The Private Governance Response to Climate Change, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017, won the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Research, and was identified in the Environmental Forum as one of the top environmental law and policy books of the last 50 years. Prior to joining the Vanderbilt faculty Vandenbergh was a partner at Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., and he served as Chief of Staff of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1993-95He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, the University of Chicago, and the Wharton School.  His research has been discussed in major media outlets such as National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, National Geographic, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. He is a member of the Board on Environmental Change and Society of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and of the American College of Environmental Lawyers. 


We have a remarkable series planned for the rest of the year featuring domestic and international speakers.
Apr. 2022, 10-11 am ET, Daniel E. Walters (Penn State Law).         

Apr. 14, 10-11 am ET, Michele Okoh (Duke University School of Law).    

    Apr. 2022, 10-11 am ET, Smita Narula (Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law).   

May 12, 2022, 10-11 am ET, Katrina Wyman (New York University School of Law).  

May 19, 2022, 10-11 am ET, Deepa Badrinarayana (Chapman University School of Law).   

May 2022, 10-11 am ET, Don Elliot (Yale Law School).     

Jun. 2022, 10-11 am ET Cary Coglianese (University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School).   

You can also access the recordings of our past events.