State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


New Website Will Help Steer the U.S. Away From Fossil Fuels

A new website, Model Laws for Deep Decarbonization in the United States, was launched on Tuesday to help accelerate a sustainable U.S. transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. It will provide policy makers at the federal, state and local levels with the legal tools needed to transition away from fossil fuels.

book cover
The new website is based on the book Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States, co-edited by Michael B. Gerrard and John C. Dernbach.

The website,, was created by Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and Widener University Commonwealth Law School’s Environmental Law and Sustainability Center. This website is based on the book Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States, co-edited by Michael B. Gerrard, faculty director of the Sabin Center and a professor at Columbia Law School, and John C. Dernbach, a professor of environmental law and sustainability at Widener University Commonwealth Law School and director of its Environmental Law and Sustainability Center. The book was published by the Environmental Law Institute in the spring of 2019 and contains more than 1,000 recommendations for how the law can reduce U.S greenhouse gas emissions. The book’s 35 chapters were written by 59 contributing authors. For each of these chapters, the website links to existing and model laws that would implement many of the book’s recommendations.

The website already provides more than 1,500 resources, including enacted and model laws, for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Among the many actions these laws enable or require are the construction of large numbers of renewable energy facilities, energy efficiency improvements in new and existing buildings, installing electric vehicle charging stations, producing low-carbon gaseous and liquid fuels, and reducing emissions of such pollutants as methane, black carbon, and fluorinated gases.

The website will be continually updated as new laws are enacted and model laws are created. More than 20 law firms are at work on a pro bono basis in drafting model laws that, after peer review, will be posted on this site.

“Throughout the country, numerous elected officials want to pass laws that will address the climate crisis,” said Michael Gerrard. “We have created a large and growing toolbox to help them do that.”

John C. Dernbach said, “While the coronavirus pandemic is rightly consuming enormous public attention, our hope is that in the near future, the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be met with the same energy and commitment. We are stubbornly optimistic that this country — and the world — can also rise to face the climate change crisis. This website provides a great many resources for doing just that.”

Development of the website was supported by the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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