2008 Archive

Spotlight: Berkeley Law Environmentalist Homes in on Campus's Carbon Footprint

Thinking globally and acting locally is a natural for Berkeley Law's Cymie Payne '97. In addition to serving as the associate director of the California Center for Environmental Law and Policy (CCELP), she also directs the Global Commons Project, which seeks to extend the influence of environmental law on global policy.

“It’s important to work for change right here on campus as well as on the bigger stage,” says Payne, .whose environmental work ranges from planetary climate change to campus greenhouse gas emissions. “Power generation, air travel, commuting, waste and water use are just some areas where people at UC Berkeley can make an impact.”

Payne, also a Berkeley Law lecturer, serves on the Steering Committee of the Cal Climate Action Partnership (CalCAP), a collaboration of faculty, administration, staff, and students created to seek out ways to lower on-campus emissions. CalCAP issued a series of recommendations last year that prompted Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to commit to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2014.

To help achieve that goal, Payne is developing a three-session series on carbon sequestration, podcasting environmental law classes and programs, and creating videoconference programs to reduce the carbon footprint caused by air travel. Exhibit A: A virtual symposium she will co-host with professor Daniel Farber on risk management and climate change technologies this spring.

“One of my pushes internally has been to do more on the Internet,” says Payne, who. “We podcast Holly Doremus’s [visiting law professor from UC Davis] Environmental Law and Policy class last year and received more than 13,000 hits from people all over the world. It expands access to what we’re doing, and enables more people to participate with less flying.”

– By Andrew Cohen