Mobilizing the Global Community on Climate Change: An Indigenous Leadership Perspective
Fawn R. Sharp Quinault President, National Congress of American Indians
Indigenous Peoples have long embraced a special responsibility to care for all living beings and steward their lands consistent with cultural, spiritual, and economic traditions. Fawn Sharp will share her perspectives on the relationship between human rights and climate justice, as well as advocacy under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, comparative experiences among Indigenous Peoples around the world, and local needs of tribal leaders and communities in the United States.
2026 May Be Too Late: Hard Conversations About Really Complicated Issues
There is no debate – demands for water across the Colorado River Basin exceed the shrinking supply. Chronic drought, record heat, increasing winds and aridity, as well as rampant wildfires are diminishing the Basin’s overall health and resilience. The historically low levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell have invited unprecedented federal action and raise the specter of a looming energy crisis. To ensure a sustainable future, these harsh realities will require inclusive collaborations and innovative actions. We brought together a broad array of expertise and diverse perspectives from across the region to candidly discuss these complex challenges. Throughout this conference we examined potential options to advance sustainable water management, expand basin-wide conservation in every sector, and strengthen watershed resilience.
John Leshy, Author Distinguished Professor of Law University of California, Hastings College of Law
The little-known story of how the U.S. government came to hold nearly one-third of the nation’s land and manage it primarily for recreation, education and conservation.
America’s public lands include more than 600 million acres of forests, plains, mountains, wetlands, deserts, and shorelines. In this book, John Leshy, a leading expert in public lands policy, discusses the key political decisions that led to this, beginning at the very founding of the nation. He traces the emergence of a bipartisan political consensus in favor of the national government holding these vast land areas primarily for recreation, education, and conservation of biodiversity and cultural resources. That consensus remains strong and continues to shape American identity. Such a success story of the political system is a bright spot in an era of cynicism about government. This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about public lands, and it is particularly timely as the world grapples with the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Professor Mark Squillace, University of Colorado Raphael J. Moses Professor of Law
Eric Dude, U.S. Department of the Interior, Attorney/Advisory (2019 Colorado Law Wyss Scholar)
Alison Flint, The Wilderness Society, Senior Legal Director
Maria Handley, The Wilderness Society, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships & Organizing
Professor Patty Limerick, University of Colorado Center of the American West
Johnsie Wilkinson, Colorado Law rising 3L (2021 Colorado Law Wyss Scholar)
Presented by the Colorado Law Wyss Scholar is U.S. Lands Conservation, the Colorado Environmental Law Journal, and the Getches-Wilkinson Center.
Tapestry, X’s Moonshot for the Electric Grid Audrey Zibelman Vice President, X’s Electric Grid Moonshot
Nations are finally committing to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that could limit global warming. However, technical obstacles to the decarbonization of electric power could yet prevent those commitments from being realized.
The low carbon electrical grids of the future will need to be powered by millions of geographically decentralized, weather-dependent power generation assets. Today’s grids are virtually the opposite: hierarchical, centralized and concentrated. Anything less than a seamless transition from the former to the future state could significantly impact the reliability, affordability and safety of electric power that is already being challenged by climate change.
A modern data-driven grid can enable such a seamless transition. Harnessing the quadrillions of gigabytes of data generated by future connected power systems is key to real-time visibility into grid assets; to improving dispatch, reduced outages, and to our ability to simulate future scenarios optimized around the decentralized future grid.
Audrey Zibelman discusses the opportunities and challenges for governments, utilities, system operators, developers and customers of harnessing data to accelerate decarbonization policy with reliable affordable power.
Equity in the Colorado River Basin: How to Sustainably Manage a Shrinking Resource
Simply put – demands for water in the Colorado River Basin exceed supply. Chronic drought, record heat, and rampant wildfires are already affecting the Basin’s overall health and resilience, and the historically low levels in Lakes Mead and Powell led to an unprecedented call on the river. These compounding challenges come at a time when several key components of the “Law of the River” are sunsetting in 2026. Key players are already revisiting the 2007 Interim Guidelines, Minute 323, and the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan. Relatedly, endangered fish recovery programs relevant to the region expire in 2023. Meanwhile, 48% of Tribal households in the U.S. do not have access to reliable water sources, clean drinking water, or basic sanitation. These harsh realities hasten the need to advance sustainable water management, improve watershed resilience, and ensure clean water access through collaborative decision-making. We look forward to bringing together diverse expertise from across the region to draw the roadmap to an equitable future in the Colorado River Basin.
Colorado Law Dean James Anaya leads a moderated conversation with Secretary Haaland and Congressman Neguse exploring both agency and legislative priorities regarding public lands and water management, resource extraction, energy development, and related tribal issues – with an environmental/climate justice lens.
Join us for a conversation among two strong voices for creative entrepreneurship who will discuss what it will take to scale up the varied technologies needed to advance an equitable clean-energy economy. Newly appointed Executive Director of the Department of Energy’s Loan Program, Jigar Shah, is a seasoned clean energy entrepreneur, author, and acclaimed podcast host known for his work to create and advocate for market-driven solutions to climate change. Among his many accomplishments, Attorney General Weiser founded the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at Colorado Law, where he catalyzed critical conversations among diverse stakeholders to propel the future of law, policy and entrepreneurship. From strategic investments and the free market, to related law and policy, Shah and Weiser will discuss transforming existing energy infrastructure, accelerating growth of utility-scale solar and wind, expanding domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles, analyzing nuclear potential, and how all of these efforts will advance technology breakthroughs and create jobs.
The 30 federally recognized tribes in the Colorado River Basin depend on the Colorado and its tributaries for a variety of purposes, including cultural and religious activities, domestic, irrigation, commercial, municipal and industrial, power generation, recreation, instream flows, wildlife, and habitat restoration. Twenty-two of these tribes have recognized rights to use 3.2 million-acre feet of Colorado River system water annually, or approximately 25 percent of the Basin’s average annual water supply. In addition, 12 of the tribes have unresolved water rights claims, which will likely increase the overall volume of tribal water rights in the Basin. With the oldest water rights in the basin, tribes are poised to play a significant role in balancing water demand and supply and otherwise shaping the future of the region. Join leaders of the Water & Tribes Initiative in a conversation about the role of tribes and other sovereigns and stakeholders in advancing a sustainable vision for the Colorado River.
Marcilynn A. Burke Dean and Dave Frohnmayer Chair in Leadership and Law University of Oregon School of Law
Almost forty years ago, Dean Derrick Bell, published the book entitled, And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice. In his book, he tells a story of apparent triumphs, followed by continuing travails. He describes the United States as a place that seemingly has made great progress in its efforts to achieve racial justice, but how its facial progress actually masks and sustains systemic failures.
The challenges in the management of the nation’s natural resources, though very different (and yet not unrelated to racial justice), are nonetheless quite complex and woven into the very fabric of the nation. The country has many urgent needs with respect to energy development, preservation and conservation, climate change, and climate justice. This presentation will outline a few of the great hopes for natural resources management under the Biden Administration and this next cycle of “reform.” It will examine some of the factors that make it more likely for us to be saved or save ourselves, so that at the conclusion of the Biden Administration, we do not utter the words of the prophet Jeremiah. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Jeremiah 8:20
Dr. Steven Chu U.S. Secretary of Energy 2009-2013 William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology Stanford University
Multiple industrial and agricultural revolutions have profoundly transformed the world. Their unintended consequence is that we are changing the Earth’s climate. Recent data will be presented that indicates our climate is even more sensitive than previously known and is changing faster than ever before. In addition to climate risks, we face many challenges – like how to provide enough clean energy, water, air, and food to a world of 7.7 billion people (and likely to grow to 11 billion by 2100). Dr. Chu will discuss the technical challenges and potential solutions that could provide better paths to a sustainable future. How we transition from where we are now to where we need to be within 50 years is arguably the most pressing set of issues that science and innovation has had to address.