Fossil Fuels on Trial: Status of Climate Change Lawsuits

Students Nikolai Christoffersen and Jane Tekin with Elena Mihaly

October 5th, 2018

At the last Log Lunch, Elena Mihaly, a Staff Attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, gave a talk on the realm of environmental law.

“In the last decade, the number of climate change lawsuits has skyrocketed,” Elena said. There are three important things to focus on in the present environmental moment: hope, accountability, and positive change.

She emphasized the role of youth in changing policies, citing the Kelsey Juliana example, in which youth plaintiffs claim that atmosphere is a public trust right and the federal government therefore must protect it for future generations.

Accountability is essential to healing the planet–for example, states filing lawsuits against fossil fuel companies.

In order to spark positive change, Elena recommends learning about people that inspire us, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


—Jane Tekin, ’19


The Conservation Law Foundation is a New England-wide environmental advocacy nonprofit. A core aspect of Elena’s work focuses on legal and policy solutions to climate change, as well as advancing solutions to help communities adapt in the facd of known climate risks. She received her J.D. and Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School, and she holds a B.A. in Environmental Science from Colorado College. When she’s not at work, Elena loves exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog.