Duke Energy, a familiar presence in courtrooms and the halls of government, will fund the expansion of a UNC School of Law center on climate, energy and the environment.
Duke’s foundation has committed $200,000 in initial funding and expects to give $400,000 over the following two years to add staff, new courses and scholarships to the renamed Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics.
The center, to be known as CE3, says it will become the nation’s first law and policy center focused on the intersection of climate, energy and environmental law and economic development.
“With the quickly evolving energy landscape, it’s critical that law students and attorneys are prepared to balance emerging climate, energy and environmental issues with economic competitiveness,” David Fountain, Duke’s North Carolina president and a UNC Law graduate, said in a statement. “This requires a collaborative approach.”
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The center said it will work to engage government agencies, businesses and communities with leaders in its fields of study to help shape future policy. Law students and attorneys will get real-world experience in how those policies interact, it said.
The money will be significant for a seven-year-old center that survives on a budget of $40,000 to $50,000 a year.
Director Victor Flatt acknowledged the appearance that Duke could influence the center’s direction, but said its money comes with no strings attached. The center also works closely with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which employs UNC Law graduates and represents advocacy groups that oppose Duke.
Flatt, a professor of environmental law, said Duke liked his idea of training students to look broadly at the fast-changing shifts in climate change, energy, environmental law and economic opportunity.
“We’re looking at a future where we could really be seeing a different world,” he said. “I’m happy that the private sector realizes that we need to address these issues together.”
An advisory board of UNC Law faculty, alumni and students will be named for the center and might include Duke, Flatt said.