UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, the leading environmental law and policy program in the country, has received a new $5 million commitment from the Emmett Foundation. The contribution includes a matching opportunity and is the latest of several transformative gifts that the foundation, which is led by Dan and Rae Emmett, has made during nearly 15 years of dedicated engagement with UCLA Law.
The donation includes a direct gift of $2.5 million and a challenge: The foundation will match on a one-to-one basis gifts made by other donors up to an additional $2.5 million. When the match is fully met, the overall benefit to the Emmett Institute will be $7.5 million.
The gift will allow the Emmett Institute – which now ranks as the nation’s No. 1 environmental law program, according to U.S. News & World Report – to expand its cutting-edge policy, research and advocacy work, as well as its support for students and graduates. Funds will boost faculty-driven research into environmental governance and policy at the state, federal and international levels; environmental law clinics and other projects that advance the institute’s public service mission; scholarships for environmental law students; and fellowships for graduates who pursue public interest work in environmental law.
“Few things are more gratifying than supporting the outstanding scholars, students, and advocates who lead the work that the Emmett Institute does each and every day to create impactful and lasting solutions to the increasing dangers of climate change,” says Dan Emmett. “Climate leaders who know how to get things done are more essential than ever. We are eager to see the institute continue its nationally renowned work, and we hope that, through the match, others will join us in recognizing and boosting these efforts.”
Institute initiatives include serving as the new home of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, a network of 39 states and provinces in 10 countries – Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, and the United States – that works to protect tropical forests, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and take large-scale action on this global humanitarian, economic, and ecological crisis. Through the California Environmental Legislation and Policy Clinic, students work with state legislators to craft bills that aim to reduce negative environmental impacts on agricultural workers and make it feasible for local governments to address sea level rise. And a broad array of litigation advocacy efforts boost programs that promote shifts away from reliance on fossil fuels, curb the effects of wildfires and the destruction of wildlife habitats, and target air pollution and other public health crises at the neighborhood level.
“The climate crisis is at an inflection point, with time running out to create and implement workable solutions that reflect both legal and scientific expertise,” says Ted Parson, the Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law and the institute’s faculty director. “Dan and Rae have long understood that UCLA, as one of the great global public universities, is and should be at the forefront of this fight. So this gift isn’t merely visionary – it is undeniably essential to doing the work that we all need to protect the environment, worldwide. We are tremendously grateful for Dan and Rae’s enduring and vital support.”
Emmett Institute faculty members are leading experts in law and policy topics including climate emissions reduction, China and the environment, energy law, toxics regulation, governance of water and other natural resources, air pollution control and emerging technologies such as carbon dioxide removal and solar engineering. They produce major scholarship, collaborate with top innovators to craft government frameworks and are preeminent media voices on environmental topics via opinion pieces and interviews in outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and the Los Angeles Times.
Students in the institute take an advanced curriculum in environmental law and can earn a certificate for completing the law school’s specialization in that area. They help represent environmental advocacy organizations and community groups through the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic; develop and promote events and other activities through UCLA Law’s Environmental Law Society; and run UCLA Law’s Journal of Environmental Law and Policy. A great number of these students go on to careers at leading environmental nonprofits, regulatory agencies and law firms. In 2022, the largest-ever cohort of students in the specialization graduated from UCLA Law.
The Emmett family has long been concerned about environmental issues and is actively involved in supporting environmental organizations and initiatives. Dan Emmett is the chairman of the Santa Monica-based Douglas Emmett, Inc., one of the largest owners and operators of office and multifamily properties in Los Angeles and Honolulu. Through an array of governmental and nonprofit engagements, he and his companies have been known for their leadership in energy conservation since 1990.