Good Law | Bad Law #89 Is the time now to act on climate change? w/ Steve Harvey & Yolanda Pagano - Transcription
Aaron Freiwald: Welcome back to good law bad law. On this issue I sit down with two lawyers who've started an organization called 'A Call to the Bar' and they're calling on lawyers in particular as individuals who understand the law and the importance of the law to get involved in the issue of climate change. To learn more about it to engage in the issue to have important conversations about this very very important issue and I'll tell you one thing I've gotten out of this and I'm a lawyer. I need to know more. I need to understand this issue better and we need to have more conversations on this issue on this program. So you can count on that. But for today's episode I hope you'll enjoy a conversation with Steve Harvey and Yolanda Pagano two lawyers who are calling on all the rest of us lawyers and non lawyers to get involved and engaged on the important issue of climate change. Stay Tuned.
Aaron Freiwald: My guests today are Steve Harvey and Yolanda Pagano two attorneys who were instrumental in starting the organization 'A Call to the Bar' a group designed to get lawyers across the country involved in the climate change issue. So first of all Steve and Yolanda thank you so much for being on the program. Thanks for having us. Well this is a hugely important issue obviously and fascinating to me that you are both working in this area. We're going to hear about that and that you're calling lawyers across the country to get involved in this issue. I have to say as a proud parent my middle daughter is working this summer for a group called Sunrise Foundation and is going door to door on behalf of state representative candidates in Pennsylvania emphasizing candidates who are pro environment who are not and who are not receiving campaign donations from fossil fuel companies for example. So I see that young people and they need to be involved in this issue. They're the future. But tell us a little bit about each of you yourselves and this group 'A Call to the Bar' how this got started and what you're doing.
Steve Harvey: Ok I'll go first I'm Steve. So I'm a general litigator here in Philadelphia I was a partner at a large law firm. I've had my own firm for five years now and we do commercial litigation and related things and people ask me Is this your business. No this is not my business MY business. I'm not involved in any way in practicing law specifically on climate change. Having said that I submitted a couple of amicus briefs and points of appeals but this isn't my business. But but I'm very concerned as a citizen because I've been following it for years starting in law school. I remember when James Hansen gave the testimony in 1988 before the United States Congress saying that at that point climate change was already a very well recognized and established science and that it was real and that it was going to be a problem. And that was in 1988 and I remember just being very concerned about it and then I did some science litigation throughout my career including the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District case which really reignited my interest and passion in science.
Aaron Freiwald: That was,just say a sentence about what that is because that's an important case.
Steve Harvey: Kitzmiller was a 2005 case in central Pennsylvania that involved the teaching of something called intelligent design in public school science classes, an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution.
I was co-lead counsel for a group of parents with the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State and we won that case and the court held that intelligent design is not science it's religion and that the school district violated the first amendment school by promoting it in public school science class.
Aaron Freiwald: Right.
So it's the modern day Scopes trial really in our in our era.
Steve Harvey: Correct. And a lot of people who were on board with us in that case and what we were trying to achieve which was just nothing more than keeping religion out of science class and promoting good science education. But the issues that are presented by climate change are in many many times more important arguably. And it really involved the same thing they involve getting education out there and letting people know what the reality is about the science of this alarming problem. And so after I started my own firm I just began to feel free to do some things that really touched me and moved me and this was one of them. And then I was in touch at that time with my old friend Yolanda Pagano and my law school classmate and she had the same interests. And so that was in 2013 I think. And since then we've been working together and we've done a number of things with our organization to try and our goal for the organization is to make bring awareness in the legal community and to lawyers of the gravity of this problem the existence of solutions and the ethical and need and moral need for lawyers to become involved in promoting and implementing those solutions for the good of ourselves and our children and the economy and everything.
Aaron Freiwald: Well and I know and I'm going to come to Yolanda in just a second. But Steve you wrote an article in 2015 about this issue and why you and Yolanda and others are calling on lawyers particularly to become involved in this issue to become informed and become active at one point in the article you say people ask why lawyers. Because the solution to climate change must be expressed in law. And I want to hold that thought for a moment and come back to it because you know we've heard a lot about political activism whether it's you know marches on Washington or you know as my daughters involved in deciding which candidates we should support.
We certainly have talked a lot heard a lot about science and in some very small sectors of the world in beliefs about the science.
But the idea that this is a problem that has be addressed through law is really why I thought we we should be talking about it on this program especially so I want to come back to that idea in a moment but first Yolanda tell us tell us about yourself and your background.
Yolanda Pagano: As Steve mentioned you know being with Steve in Law School. I though then went on a different path then Steve did. And I actually have never practiced law but went and leveraged my financial background. I'm an accounting undergrad so I was in a public accounting firm for several years then joined the energy industry still in a financial position initially with Peco energy here in Philadelphia that now Peco's part of Exelon and was when I worked there as well. And over time my position evolved from being in the finance organization to being involved more in governmental affairs and regulatory affairs. And then that ultimately concluded with me being involved in the environment, environmental department leading the company's climate change program.
Aaron Freiwald: And I I'm interrupting only to emphasize and underline what you just said because you were working for certainly one of the largest energy companies in our country in charge of their environmental and sustainability efforts.
Yolanda Pagano: Yes exactly. So it's it was my title and the position I did predominately was focus on climate change but we also had the broader responsibility for sustainability as well. That's where my career has taken me since then but now I just had a piece on what was that climate change program look like it Exelon. So it was both an effort to change the way we were operating to the degree that we could. Now energy industry has a lot of long lived assets so we couldn't change over our fleet of facilities very quickly. So some of what we did was look to the potential to buy offsets the carbon offset market. This ability to pay money to someone else for their reduction that they've achieved and have that offset your use your emissions is a very viable and methodology akin to the cap and trade methodology that we'll probably talk about later in the program. It's very common methodology for environmental to address environmental problems. It's been used for other air emissions as well and is used globally on the carbon front. So we did that both with offsets the potential to use offsets we actually wound up not doing that when we did all of our efforts internally reducing our own usage making our plants more efficient. So we were getting more energy out per energy input more electricity out per energy input and we participated in a voluntary program that existed at that time doesn't currently with the EPA called the Climate Leaders Program and we exceeded an 8 percent goal and achieved I think it was 23 percent reduction in the time frame that we had set that goal.
And we were also active on the public policy front. We couldn't we recognized as a company that public policy was needed again the answer is in the law. And in order to do that though we couldn't just advocate for something without walking the talk. And so that was a very big part of having both aspects of the program advocacy and action. I left Exelon I was in consulting for several years working with companies on their sustainability programs and a big driver to most company sustainability programs is climate change in many instances. But if you look at the word sustainability it's really a three part for people who may not know that term. It's really a three part calculus addressing environmental issues social issues and economic issues. So it still has to make sense for your business what are you trying to do. But you're also making sure that you're taking into account the impact on citizens and the world that we live in. And now I'm with a private company Keystone Foods and I'm leading their global sustainability program. But the passion and the drive recognizing that climate change is a big issue and it touches so many aspects of operations is at the heart of the heart of the matter today that I'm working on but also involved with the organization 'A Call to the Bar.'
Aaron Freiwald: So how did this then come about. And I want to ask you Steve because these were your words in your article. Why. Why must the solution to climate change be expressed in law. And how did that idea lead you with Yolanda to issue this call to the bar to get lawyers involved in this in this important issue.
Steve Harvey: Well I'm going to say that first of all the statement I made in the article I upon reflection is is an incomplete statement. There are other reasons and this has been in this dialogue that we've had with lawyers in this community and throughout the country about why lawyers should be involved so I think there's more to it than that but that is certainly at the heart of it. I say this I don't want to sound to cavalier but voluntary action is really not the way to get anything done in a huge interconnected systemic world that we have. It's great that we all recycle. It's great that many of us do the right thing individually but the forces that are at work here are so large that we're not going to get the traction that we need to protect ourselves and society unless we get some real buyin and that has to be expressed in law.
I'm referring to international national regional local laws that address this ongoing problem hopefully in some coordinated way both of and in the climate change role.
We talk about two things we talk about mitigation which means bringing down the emissions which are the number one central problem and then reacting to the fact that that's already having. And that's going to continue to have. So that's a lot that's happening there. That's going to need large laws like maybe something to drive down those carbon emissions but all kinds of other laws designed to make cities safer and and help us to live as a society and with the way that hopefully to a rate. We want to be happy and we want to be prosperous that enables us to continue that.
Yolanda Pagano: I was just to say I just had this sort of refinement right the voluntary actions are important and because in many instances they are at least preparing people people who are demonstrating that they're able to do those voluntary actions today in a way that again balances that economic outcome. So they're not making a choice between do I get to do this and then and then I have this damaging impact to myself whether it's financial or even societal you know I don't get to enjoy life the way I used to driving my car or whatever it is they're able to balance that. And so they demonstrate that capability. They also demonstrate potential methods by which we could potentially achieve the carbon offset markets are in large measure a voluntary market today. People are still interested in doing them. So there are they are useful. And they are driving results but to drive the major result and as quickly as we need it to happen that's where the belief is that that ultimately there has to be legislation or regulation that would address this.
Aaron Freiwald: Right. And you mentioned two key words that I was going to just get right to. Legislation laws and regulation. And also Steve you alluded to this as well. Treaties and international agreements that might exist between countries and among countries. You know we think about politicians today. I just used the word we think of them as politicians you know just interested in getting elected or staying elected. But but the other name that really should apply is lawmaker you know with whether at the state local the local level or in Congress in Washington these are people being elected to be lawmakers.
And you know it's also interested in another point in your in this article and we'll put a link up to this so people can can see it that in 1987 which was right around the time of Hansen's remarks about climate change that you talked about earlier Congress passed the Global Climate Protection Act which was a law to say to the EPA hey come back and help us formulate a national policy on climate change that was in 1987 and nothing has happened since then Congress has really done nothing on this issue since then. So we talked you know whether you're canvassing streets in you know outside Harrisburg regarding state legislatures or you know making this an issue that is a voting issue whatever it is that really is one of the most fundamental things that people need to do.
Whether you have a law degree or not. Right.
Steve Harvey: Absolutely. The Declaration of Independence says that we all have an inalienable right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And it also says in that same clause and that government exists to secure these rights that is the purpose of the government to secure our rights to life liberty and happiness and if we have a world where we have rising sea waters and our food supplies are disrupted and we have all kinds of other problems that are caused by something that we can't control it would seem that would be basic to our notions of law and government that we as citizens would demand it. And for a lot of reasons that hasn't happened to date. And we need to make that happen.
Yolanda Pagano: No I was going to say Aaron you started your comments just now with the word politician. And I. I think that's part of the problem. Right. We have such a partisan environment today that's causing people to take positions not necessarily because they're thinking of what the right outcome is to secure the rights that Steve talked about but because they are wedded to their to their statement their whatever their platform is. Having said that we as an organization are not political we believe this is a universal issue and not just an American issue or local issue. It is universal and is necessary to have parties again not just parties come together. Nations come together. People come together to really address the issue. So the education is critical. People recognize and especially on this issue you know we sit here in Philadelphia. OK. Sea levels are going to rise. Well you know the shore that we all go to sometimes if you're from Philadelphia right. It's an hour and a half away that's really not my issue maybe. But it is you know the Earth is our home. It's the only home we have. And so if we're not protecting what we have today we're wasting our our our ultimate resource our place the place we live it and making it untenable.
Aaron Freiwald: You know it is amazing that we as a country still seem not to be taking this issue seriously. You know as you mentioned that about the rising tides and we're in Philadelphia I mean it's almost a joke if you're in Philadelphia. You know the next line that should come after the story you tell is well I guess I'll be I'll guess I'll have beachfront property at that point. You know it's a joke. And we don't take that seriously. I mean Florida will be underwater Manhattan will be underwater. Is that what it will take till till this issue is taken seriously. But there have been other moments in our history when there have been issues of long standing deeply rooted even deeply entrenched. You know seriousness that it just took. A long time till it did become an issue treated seriously and I want one of you whoever wants to tell this story because it's it's really integral to how you both got on this issue and calling lawyers in particular to get involved and it takes us back to 1963.
Steve Harvey: Yeah this is a great story and we do we do call on this for inspiration because it involves some Philadelphia lawyers and the story is of the great Philadelphia lawyer Jerry Siegel who at the time.
Aaron Freiwald: Bernie Siegel.
Steve Harvey: Bernie Siegel, I'm sorry, Bernie Siegel,sorry, sorry, apologize.
And he was he was a prominent lawyer here in Philadelphia. I recall where at that point he had been the president of the American Bar Association but he was a very prominent guy and he witnessed the events in the summer of 1963 down in Alabama and his wife said to him you know one day before he went to work your big shot lawyer why can't you and your big shot lawyer friends do something about this appalling problem right. And so he went to the office that day. And I believe the immediate events were right around the time of Governor Wallace's defying of the order of integration and he went to his office that day with another future president of the ABA Jerry Shestack. And they started making calls around the country and they arranged they organized a bunch of people to a bunch a number of prominent lawyers to sign on two letters which they paid to have published in the Alabama newspapers the following Monday saying the people of this country are watching the lawyers of this country are watching and you should obey the law. And it was really it was then following that President Kennedy issued his famous call to the bar for the leaders of the organized bar and the legal community to come to Washington D.C. to be lobbied by him and Bobby Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson a powerful lobbying combo if there ever was one. And the legal industry got squarely behind the need to address this really really burning pressing issue of racial integration throughout the country in particular the South of course. And so we drew inspiration on that and we stole the name 'A Call to the Bar' and we have colon A Call to the bar:lawyers for common sense on climate change as we go by just so that people understand just it's a little long but just really understand what we're promoting.
Aaron Freiwald: And Yolanda the call that you're issuing for lawyers why is that.
As Steve pointed out this isn't necessarily because you practice in this area you don't but there's something that the lawyers understand from the training that we all have to get when we go through law school about the law. And and and as I like to say on this program all the time why the law matters in this issue. So you know can you speak to that in a general way. You know is climate change for lawyers and for really all of us. Is it. Is it an economic issue. Is it a societal issue. Is it a moral issue. I mean how would how do you care if you're going to try to get somebody as impassioned as you are on this issue. How do you do that. What to what what do you appeal to in that person.
Yolanda Pagano: So the answer's yes. Right. Is it. Is it a moral issue is it a legal issue or a financial issue is it an ethical issue. It's all of those things right. And that's where that's why one of the reasons that we said this this is not just an environmental issue. So this idea that a lot of people have the climate change is environmental issue environmental lawyers will handle it is not true. This touches so many disciplines even when I took the position that the climate change the that I did at Peco. I had to step back for a second before I accepted that position. Think about am I really the best person to do this or am I do I have the right qualifications. Let me say it that way, no one's ever the best person to do. Maybe somebody is right.I don't necessarily think I am but I think that I had to do the calculus right. I said OK well this is something where we have to count emissions. I've a financial backer and I can do that. I have to probably buy offsets. We did did really think that we were going to have to buy offsets in that program. And that's financial. Another financial aspect and I'm a lawyer. It's a contract essentially to make sure that what we're buying is really a true true reduction.
And so I have that legal background to do that. The science I don't know as well but there's a lot of engineers and scientists in my company and they can help me with that. But I even in taking that position realized that there were those three disciplines already in front of me right recognizing financial legal and science and engineering. But even then health issues you know lots of medical studies I mean this is now as I got more informed on the issue lots of medical studies point to the fact that know heat heat index is rising are causing other health problems for people much broader social issue. Our own government the Department of Defense has done studies not only number one or all of the defense assets. So think of our naval department lots of our defense assets sit at sea level sea level changes that does a lot to the infrastructure just the physical infrastructure of our protection within the country. But in addition the disruption that sea level rise will cause whether it's as Steve pointed out earlier food disruption supplies energy disruption communication systems all of those things can also cause concerns to our national security not just physical security but national security and international incidents that we might get drawn into. So all of these things that just point to the interrelated nature of this which says to me and when we were discussing the issue you know this is not just again you can't just point to one sector and we see it even today the city water department changed the way the storm water allocations were being made. That's something that are currently contract lawyers in the city. Other lawyers who are assisting their clients with how do we build this building how do we meet building business energy benchmarks that are being set in the city. How do we deal with the fact that we're now going to have a water surcharge because of our impervious surface which we were not incurring before all of these issues. Again health responses say that lawyers on every front need to be involved in the issue today. When we don't have the legislation that's really needed. There's implications to your practice today and to your rights of your clients that you should be thinking about and being able to consult with your clients on so they're adequately informed. Now and then obviously preparing them for the future as well.
Aaron Freiwald: Like what I'm still thinking about at this point in our conversation we're going to get to some specific issues. Carbon solar you know some other things. But you know the issue of racial injustice and the civil rights movement wasn't something that was born in 1963 when of when these two Philadelphia lawyers said we want to do something. And similarly the issue of climate change isn't something that just erupted you know in recent times. There was some point where these two Philadelphia lawyers were presented with the moral imperative to do something about the issue. Or Bernie Siegel's wife gave you know the moral imperative you know to her husband. So it's it's striking that it seems we're still in a moment in this in this in these moments before we we've gotten to that point where it's so clear that everybody has to be involved in doing something that it is truly as you said a universal issue it's not a partisan issue.
It's not about politics. Yet it seems that it still is. You know since you know in the last two years and just looking through some recent articles in the news and just generally keeping up with the news I mean we're turning away from the issue of focusing on climate change anything as if we're. Deciding to put our heads firmly into the ground on this issue and we're going back to the days of promoting fossil fuels. You know in this administration. So I mean what we'll talk about some specifics but still you know floating above the issue what is going on today do you think.
Steve Harvey: Well hopefully the current environment
That seems to be opposed to doing anything that clearly is opposed to doing anything about climate change which is reflected in the current administration strongly we are not partisan but we do take note of those politicians and those people who are promoting things that make sense for the environment and those that are not promoting things that make sense and the current administration is completely opposed to doing anything progressive or corrective or mitigating on climate change in fact as you correct that they want to promote fossil fuels.
That's we hope a very short term trend. Longer term we have the support. So we're we're lawyers we're not scientists we're not theologians and we're really good about not misrepresenting ourselves. So we and we translate for others. One of things we do as lawyers we journalists do a similar kind of function but we take complicated information through time we verified it and then we present it and what we know is is that there has been a worldwide movement in religion and that the among religious leaders
Recognizing that this is a problem the pope is the most notable because he's the head of the largest religious organization in the world.
But he's certainly not alone. There are many leaders of all faiths who at very high levels who have spoken out very clearly on this issue that Pope Pope is one of many many voices that would and this would encompass all mainstream Protestant groups in this country. Most of all mainstream Jewish groups you know and other world faiths you know Islam and Buddhism and others that there's really a clear clear and that's based on the science they are speaking theologically based on the science they're speaking to us about what our obligations is as people so we have that going for us. And that is a very very big substantial thing. And we hope that as time goes on more and more people the short term trend will be offset by a longer term trend of people wanting to take action. The question is going to be of course whether that's soon enough this is this problem has some urgency. Well that's one thing we have going for us. The other thing we have going for us is that there are people of tremendous influence on both sides of the political aisle on this front who are very supportive. There is a group of conservative economists that includes George Shultz the former secretary of state and other positions James Baker Gregory Mankiw the head of the economics department at Harvard and a list of other people.
Anybody would recognize as conservatives leading economists and they all agree that it is a real problem and that the know that the only major solution that we need to implement is some carbon some kind of a carbon fee sometimes called a carbon tax. We can talk about that more as we go on. But the point I'm making here is that's not coming.
That's coming from economists and people who identify as conservatives.
Aaron Freiwald: Well let me stay on that point because and maybe Yolanda you can speak to this because you come from an energy company background and you know Exelon is not just in electricity their a nuclear. I mean there you know there you know the old guard in terms of you know providing energy in this country. And I'm you know I was in Italy with my wife recently this summer and just driving around the country beautiful Tuscan countryside and you can't believe how many solar panel fields you see. It's everywhere. All houses with solar panels all over their roofs. And we we're like I don't whats beyond a third world. We're like a fourth world country when it comes to this it seems. And you know when I'm trying to figure out why this isn't more universally recognized why this does seem to be partisan. Why. I mean the issue of climate change there's nothing inherently Democrat or Republican or liberal or conservative about that. But and there and there seem to be inherent contradictions even in that in some of the policies I'm just using this as an example. I saw that among the industries that President Trump has decided to include in his tariff policies the solar panel industry and has put a five year 30 percent tariff on the importing of solar panels.
And this is this is said to have all kinds of rebound effect in the in this industry causing a halt to two and a half billion dollars in solar installation projects in our country. And you know I don't think it can be about jobs because I think there are far more people working in the solar industry at this point in our country than work in coal. But the president is speaking to the coal miners like we should be ramping up coal production in our country instead. So from an economic standpoint from a political standpoint it doesn't make any sense. So I still am asking. And scratching my head. Why. What is the issue. It's not. I mean you were involved in the you know in that the issue of you know the modern version of creationism that's religion that's religiously motivated. You could say that there are people who are very passionate about abortion. That issue today because they come from a religious perspective on that issue and it makes sense whether you agreed or not. But on this issue. I mean what everyone says is 97 percent of scientists agree. And there's three percent who are not agreeing. But what is it they're not agreeing with why isn't this something do you think why have we not. Why have we not reached that moment.
Yolanda Pagano: So I'll say two things maybe maybe three. So one is fundamentally there's going to be winners and losers on this issue. Right. If all of my investments are in fossil assets and suddenly they fall out of favor I'm going to be a loser on some level in this in this calculus. And so we have to take that into account. To be quite honest in making this transition and it's a transition that needs to be made. But we have to bring that along. We also have to recognize that you can't shutter all those things immediately.
Aaron Freiwald: When you say winners and losers. You mean money losers.
Yolanda Pagano: Correct. Absolutely.
Aaron Freiwald: Business losers, jobs losers
Yolanda Pagano: Personal losers right those people with the houses at the shore who if Philadelphia becomes shore front property that's a lot of real estate that's going to also be impacted by this. Right. So I mean there's losers on winners and losers on many levels. So whenever that's the case somebody has got to make the playing field a little bit fairer. So that's why when you were in Europe and you saw more solar panels more wind turbines potentially if you went to Germany you'd see a lot of wind turbines. There are provisions in place to incentivize those thanks. Same thing here if you go to New Jersey you'll see many more houses with solar panels on them. They have a very strong solar incentive program in New Jersey.
We have one here in Pennsylvania too not as strong very strong in New Jersey so you see those differences in the outcomes because of a financial incentive. That's one aspect of it. The other thing I think that's important is that to look at that intersection that balance of how do we. There's not. There's not a significant cliff event that's going to happen with this issue. And so it always seems far off and remote to people. One of the things that they here in Philadelphia the sustainability offices doing in Philadelphia in conjunction with our parks department is realizing they've looked at what the projections are for climate in this area and they recognize that our climate by the end of this century may be more akin to what is what we currently think of as the climate in North Carolina. Well if that's the case and you have the largest municipal park system right with thousands of trees well you're going to be dealing with a whole different set of species and in a hundred less than a hundred years 80 years or so then you're dealing with today. How do you prepare for that. They're already planting in the park system that adaptation that Steve was talking about right mitigation is one aspect. Let's reduce what we're doing but adapting how do we adapt to the new normal. They're starting to think about that.
It's very hard for the individual person to think oh 80 years from now you know I'm not going to be here my children likely may not even be here to think those implications. So that's where there's a big disconnect I think. Not a big but it's a much more it's much more tangential or just it's just not in people's lives in a way that is very impactful on a daily basis. So you have to turn to the science and recognize that the scientists are right. The discrepancies between the 97 percent of scientists and the 3 percent of scientists are all about the projection models right. It's did this calculation. Does this model actually project what's going to happen. Well as any of us know...no model is going to project anything perfectly but it gives you a sense of the direction a sense of the impacts a sense of where things are headed. If you're going to nit pick every decision that was made in setting this parameter that parameter looking at this set of data versus that set of data. Yes of course we're going to disagree. I like blue shirts you like pink shirts. Well sure that's the way it is. We're not going to have a definitive mark but that's where people are taking advantage of those little decisions to make it appear as if there's not scientific consensus on this issue.
But there is.
Steve Harvey: There's also Aaron a very well orchestrated and funded and long term campaign. Much of the fossil fuel industry is behind this and there's no question about this is extremely well documented. To sow misinformation and doubt about climate change and the effects of it. It used to be. The question was whether it was even real whether human activities specifically CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gas emissions were causing climate were causing the climate to change. There's no question about that. There's nobody says you can't realistically argue that point. So then as it were then that then the new game was well.
How bad is it and how soon. We don't want to overreact. We don't want to do. And the reality is is that we're learning increasingly learning that it is a very very serious problem. We're seeing the consequences of it now. And there's really good data again not me I'm not an expert but my understanding is there's really good science and social science research about climate change and what effect that is having in Syria and the fact that that is having as part of that war in Syria. And part of the refugee crisis is being caused because it's getting hotter and hotter in places that people want to move north where it's more hospitable.
So there is that climate that campaign of misinformation. Yolanda mentioned adaptation and mitigation and a few years ago I would have laughed if you told me and you suggested adaptation. I would not have a serious conversation with you. You think we're going to adapt our way out of this serious problem. And I think there's still I think there's something to that. Having said that the reality is that adaptation has taken off and it takes off at the homeowner level because you're seeing more rain you're thinking oh do I need new gutters, what am I going to do with my roof. I mean it's a very personal thing. We're seeing municipalities are being as Yolanda explained all across this country. Republican districts Democratic districts they're having to confront the change in the weather and what they're going to do about it. And so and so now I think we should work at adaptation because it's obvious we need to all keep our houses up and keep our cities up. But at the same time it's making people aware. So it's actually bringing them around on and mitigation on the need to address the big problem. The unrelenting greenhouse gas emissions that's the big problem that we have to address. And if adaptation helps get us there while we all get new gutters and I think that's that's good.
Yolanda Pagano: Well in the in the third leg of something we haven't mentioned is resiliency right. That's another aspect to this. So Manhattan those storms a few years ago caused all that flooding into the subway system. Exactly. Thank you. Now they're now recognizing that OK we have to we actually have to fortify the you know where the water meets the meets our land right. And so how are they doing that. They are building structures that are multipurpose. So they're building these different types of parks they've had they've had an engagement where their plan did them during the planning for this. I'm not sure how much of this is yet under construction. But one of the plans for instance is to build a tennis courts and soccer fields that are built with concrete seating that rises up and provides a barrier. So when there's nothing happening and conditions are normal you have the social aspects to the money that you spend. You've created new parks etc. but you've also built a system that reinforces your ability to keep water from infiltrating the city. Again these become the tangible elements that Steve I think is talking about you know the tangible things that make people realize oh this is real. Then we think if we're spending this kind of money and we're doing these sorts of things this is much more an issue that we're facing today than this 80 year or 100 year issue or some inconceivable amount of time that I don't have to think about it.
Aaron Freiwald: Well and it's fascinating thinking about adaptation and mitigation and some of these changes that can happen at the level of a homeowner could happen at the level of the biggest city in our country.
You know, New York city. What is part of what you're asking of lawyers is to become more aware and also to act. This is a call to action and emphasizing that the law matters in this area and there are all different levels of law that apply. What if somebody here I am I am I am that somebody I'm going ask I'm a lawyer a call to act how. What do you think it is. Should we be talking about carbon. I would like to understand that better. If so I mean is is that what we should be talking about. Is it is a focus on elected representatives. Is it studying more about international relations and how that plays into this is it litigation.
Steve Harvey: Well we strongly encourage all others to become aware of the problem and where the solutions and start working to help implement and make those solutions real that can happen in many many different ways. That could be the first thing that everyone should do is educate themselves on the issue. There's a lot that's written out there. There are many credible sources that you can go to. I don't know if the NASA website is still as good as it was I think it and I think is really some good information on the NASA website but there's a lot of university and unimpeachable information that you can use and it's really a fascinating issue too. It's it's it's really interesting. So educating yourself educating others. And then if you have the will and the wherewithal get involved get involved with your legal community. Make it an issue for your local bar association. And then that leads to lots of things. I mean we've been involved in lobbying Congress we've met with we met. We always like to meet with Republicans frankly because we want to talk to the people who we think we're going to need to bring around a little bit and we get some wonderfully receptive some meetings in our time.
Yolanda Pagano: And with the congressional climate caucus as well.
Steve Harvey: Exactly.
Yolanda Pagano: That's a bipartisan effort to map you know a member from each side.
Steve Harvey: And we have worked with other bar associations. We've we've we've been building relationships with bar associations around the country. So we have a really strong relationship with the New York City Bar Association with the Philadelphia Bar Association with the Oregon State the Oregon State Bar. And those are those are our biggest partners. But we also have lawyers working with us in Florida and around the country so if you want to work with us. Www.CalltotheBar or drop me you can find me they can drop the information we see ourselves as it may be a bad word but fire starters we don't you know we can't coordinate. We can't be that we can't coordinate the national movement we don't have the funding to do that. But what we can do is light fires and fires we're we're already going in New York and Oregon and elsewhere.
And so we're looking to build that.
Yolanda Pagano: And we've been working with the International Bar Association.
So we are although most of our efforts have been focused on the U.S. We have had international speakers at two conferences we've held to we've called them build them as national conferences. But we had international speakers and international participants in those conferences so we are trying to also link to the international community on the issue as well.
Steve Harvey: And one thing we constantly promote is environmental justice and if we're running out of time this brings it full circle because. Because as lawyers we should be concerned about justice that's our charge. And this is a justice issue and it's going to be justice for all of us ultimately but unfortunately it's going to hit the poor and the vulnerable first and we see that already we know that's happening. And so at our conferences we bring we've brought wonderful speakers on environmental justice. And it really that really brings together the law and the morality and the ethics of the situation.
And we're just one other lawyers to be part of it and listen.
Aaron Freiwald: I think that I think that does bring around it. Let me let me kind of round out our discussion and I think we could go another hour if we didn't have our time limitations today because we didn't get to some of the specifics that I still want to understand cap and trade and carbon tax better than I do. But we can do that another day. This is an election year 2018 mid-term elections in November are going to be significant for a whole bunch of reasons. If you were talking I don't think this is an unfair question. I think this is a Democrat or Republican question. I'm not going to ask it in that way but if you were to be asked what are the one or two or three things that you'd hope people to focus on when it comes to climate change and how they decide who who can be a responsible lawmaker in the coming years. How would you how would you outline that.
Yolanda Pagano: So I think that you know you want to hear from your whoever the candidates are right. What are the candidates positions with respect to the issue of climate change. What are they. What are they thinking some of the solutions are you know is there is there incentive programs that can be put in place like we were talking get for renewable resources. Asking them these questions it's probably not a topic that's especially at the local level you know smaller elections are people who are used to talking much more. Again issues that are closer to the heart but you've got to ask the questions are you telling me if this is an issue that you think is important and we think it is we hope that your listeners will as well. This is an issue you have to get in their faces about and find out what their positions are what they're doing about it what their intentions are. One of the things that we as an organization were also asked to do was help support local not local counties but local politicians in thinking about we have a responsibility to the community that we're in charge of. What is it that we need to know to be able to do that. Some of the some people are versed in that. So if they and if your candidate isn't please find a way to help get them versed in it approach us approach others environmental organizations within the city who could help provide more information. Again web searches but have the issues have the issue here are the candidates positions on the issue. It's it's critical that it get asked.
Aaron Freiwald: Well you said it. I'm going to take you up on you said call us so. I'm going to in the description of this episode I'll include links to the Web site for 'A Call to the Bar' and your e-mails and There you go. Fantastic OK. We will post that as well so people will be able to find you
Steve Harvey: There is an organization called Citizens Climate Lobby which is a nonpartisan group which is working for carbon fee and dividend in the minds of many people who work on this issue.
There is no single thing we could do that would be more powerful than a carbon fee and dividend proposed by Citizens Climate Lobby it might get tweaked by the politicians and would still be a good thing.
Aaron Freiwald: I mean you can't stop there because now you have to give me two sentences of what it is.
Steve Harvey: Well I would say go to citizensclimatelobby.org it will have a lot of information but carbon fee and dividend is a proposal where the we would place a fee on carbon as it came into the economy whether that's a barge of coal coming in or whether it's coming out of a mine or that work well the wellhead and there would be a fee. And then the energy companies would have to pay that. They would then pass that on to their customers which would mean all of our energy bills would go up...
Yolanda Pagano: I mean this does have tangential impacts across the economy but yes...
Steve Harvey: And at the same time it would it would disincentivize you from doing those things that cause you to use more. And at the same time it would have a unbelievably powerful effect in the economy because those who could deliver energy without faults without emissions that would become very very valuable. So solar would be more valuable, wind would be more valuable. That idea that somebody is cooking up when we have a house that doesn't let out any cool air or let any warm air in. There's a lot that can be done technologically and that would drive all of that at the same time. All the money would be collected and then rebated back to the citizens on a per capita basis which would have a wonderful stimulus effect. It would have another effect because if we put this on the American economy it wouldn't be possible to do this unless you placed some kind of a fee on people bringing in goods from an economy where this wasn't the case. So it would automatically have the effect of forcing the rest of the world to implement similar laws in their countries if they expect to trade in the United States market. And since many of them are already on board with this anyway this could be this if you're looking for a single solution is going to help us get there. This is it.
Aaron Freiwald: See that's what I don't get again. And this does round out our conversation for today because in Europe it seems they are moving in that direction. You know we just had the G-7 conference before Trump went to meet with Putin and six of the seven. That is all the members of the G-7 except for the United States came out with a very strong statement on climate change and the Trump administration issued an addendum in support of the fossil fuel industry. It was the only one. So you know if you have a president who appoints the head of Exxon as your secretary of state and you issue executive orders saying we're going to you know we're going to do everything we can to lift regulations on the fossil fuel industry. That is it seems like the complete opposite direction from what you're talking about and we're in. If anything we are incentivizing the further extraction of fossil fuels and the development of that industry to the detriment of these other segments of the economy. So we're not. We're not only not in that moment we seem to be moving away from that moment which is all the more reason why this conversation is as important as it is and I hope people will check out A Call to the Bar and see what information is there.
Aaron Freiwald: I hope we'll keep the conversation going. And thank you guys really so much for being on Good Law Bad Law.
Yolanda Pagano: Thank you for having us.