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The role of local governments in Climate Change Law was the subject of a two-day international workshop held October 22-23, 2011 in Vancouver. The programme, convened by Professor Benjamin J. Richardson, Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia, contributed to the further development of Climate Law research by the IUCN Academy.

Twenty specialized law and policy researchers drawn from the ranks of nine Academy member institutions, as well as from local government and the NGO community, examined local climate law from a variety of perspectives. Political, policy and governance challenges were debated in order to better understand opportunities for and obstacles to improved local climate action. Presentations by Kathryn Harrison, a leading analyst of Canadian environmental policy, and by Scott Pasternak of the Toronto City Manager’s Office, underpinned discussion of multi-level governance in relation to climate change responses.

A second part of the workshop analyzed selected foreign examples to consider lessons for Canada and to highlight valuable precedents. Drawing on insights from South Africa, Australia, China, the European Union and the United States, participants sought to identify best practices, assess the choice and mix of policy tools for local climate action, and consider the relationship between climate law and broader policy goals to build environmentally sustainable communities.

Canadian researchers reported on domestic examples from Vancouver to Halifax, and reviewed the experience of international municipal networks for climate change action.

Proceedings from the Vancouver local climate law workshop will be incorporated into a book to be published by Edward Elgar in 2012, entitled Local Climate Change Law: Environmental Regulation in Cities and Other Localities.

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, an international network of approximately 150 environmental law teaching and research centres, has pursued research and teaching initiatives in climate law for several years. Distinctive Academy contributions include an international conference on Climate Law and Developing Countries (2008), publication of a collection of essays from that conference (Benjamin J. Richardson, Yves Le Bouthillier, Heather McLeod-Kilmurray and Stepan Wood eds. Climate Law and Developing Countries and the compilation of a set of university curriculum outlines or syllabi for Climate Law courses.