California’s Environmental Laws


Through research, education, and service, the Emmett Institute works to support and improve California’s climate and environmental policies.

California is widely recognized as the leading U.S. and global jurisdiction on climate change and other environmental issues, but the state faces significant challenges in achieving its long-term climate goals. Many communities in the state, including low-income communities and communities of color, suffer from impaired air and water quality, contamination from pesticides and hazardous substances, water scarcity, and other challenges. Through research, education, and service, the Emmett Institute works to support and improve California climate and environmental policy.

UCLA’s applied research addresses specific and timely challenges for California policymakers, with recent publications providing analysis on pesticide regulation, greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, safe drinking water in small water systems, the insurance industry’s response to climate change, and other subjects.

Faculty members also respond to California law and policy issues through comment letters and amicus briefs, providing expert opinion on significant state litigation and policy decisions. Emmett Institute faculty members are often called on to provide expert testimony at agency hearings and to assist policymakers in other ways. Since 2018, Emmett Institute faculty co-director Ann Carlson has served on an independent state committee overseeing California’s cap-and-trade program.

Emmett Institute faculty members prepare students for careers in California environmental law through extensive course offerings and career advising. Launched in 2019, the new California Environmental Legislation and Policy Clinic provides students opportunities to work with elected state officials and their staffs on projects related to state environmental policy goals. UCLA Law alumni play leading roles in California environmental law and policy at multiple state agencies.

The Emmett Institute helps advances public policy in California via symposia, public events, and closed-door workshops. Recent events have covered topics such as the insurance industry’s response to climate risk, California’s environmental policies, zero-emission freight in ports (part of an ongoing project on business opportunities to address climate change), and more.

Emmett Institute faculty add to the conversation on California’s climate and environmental issues via media and commentary, including op-eds, blog posts for Legal Planet, and frequent interviews for leading print, online, and radio news outlets.

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