Dr. David M. Driesen
University Professor, College of Law, Syracuse University
Dr. Yu An
Professor, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University
Date and Time:
Wednesday 16th March 2016
2:00 – 3:30 PM
Room 302, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University
This talk discusses climate disruption’s implications for the legal theory governing regulation of complex systems. Although economists usually work with a concept of optimal pollution levels in thinking about the goals of environmental programs, no consensus exists about what constitutes an optimal level of greenhouse gas abatement. Knightian uncertainty defeats reliable cost-benefit analysis in this context, and therefore makes it impossible to identify optimal rules.
This talk asks whether microeconomics functions effectively to guide regulation of climate disruption and other complex systems. It presents an argument advanced in The Economic Dynamics of Law (Cambridge University Press, translated to Chinese in 2015) that a macroeconomic approach would better guide decisions about how to regulate complex systems than an effort to specify an optimal level of regulation. This macroeconomic approach—an economic dynamic approach—features a focus on change over time, a goal of avoiding systemic risk while keep a reasonably robust set of economic opportunities open, and economic dynamic analysis (a form of institutional economic analysis adapted to help identify problems requiring legal remedies and evaluate rules’ likely effects). The talk will describe this approach to law and economics and show how it may help us overcome some of the problems associated with law and microeconomics as a guide to regulation of climate disruption and other complex systems.
Professor David M. Driesen is the 13th University Professor ever appointed at Syracuse University. His research focuses on law and economics, environmental law, and constitutional law. Professor Driesen has written three books: The Economic Dynamics of Law (Cambridge University Press, translated into Chinese in 2015), The Economic Dynamics of Environmental Law (MIT Press)—which won the Lynton Keith Caldwell Award (a prize offered by The American Political Science Association annually for the best book published in science, technology and environmental studies)—, and the textbook Environmental Law: A Conceptual and Pragmatic Approach (Aspen/Kluwer, with Robert Adler and Kirstin Engel). He has also published two edited volumes: Economic Thought and U.S. Climate Change Policy (MIT Press) and Beyond Environmental Law: Policy Proposals for a Better Future (Cambridge University Press with Alyson Flournoy). He has published numerous articles with leading journals, such as Cornell Law Review, Fordham Law Review, the Virginia Journal of International Law, the Journal of Corporation Law, Ecology Law Quarterly, and Harvard Environmental Law Review, as well as several book chapters.
Professor Driesen engages in public service mostly focused on defending environmental law’s constitutionality and supporting efforts to address global climate disruption. He has written numerous amicus briefs in Supreme Court cases and has represented then-Senator Hilary Clinton and other Senators in Clean Air Act litigation in the D.C. Circuit. He is a member scholar with the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR), and blogs often for CPR and RegBlog. He has worked as a consultant for American rivers and other environmental groups on Clean Water Act issues and has testified before Congress on implementation of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.
Professor Driesen was a Senior Project Attorney for The Natural Resources Defense Council, in its Air and Energy Program. Before that, he clerked for Justice Robert Utter of the Washington State Supreme Court and worked in the Special Litigation Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
Professor Driesen joined the Syracuse University College of Law faculty in 1995. He was the Distinguished Summer Scholar in 2008 at Vermont Law School and a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan Law School in 2006.
He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Yale Law School, a Masters of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.