Wil Burns

Co-Executive Director
The Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy, American University


Areas of Expertise:

Climate Change, Environmental Policy

Wil Burns, PhD, is a Scholar in Residence at the School of International Service, at American University and a Senior Fellow in the International Law Research Program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). From 2012 to 2014 he founded and directed the MS in Energy Policy and Climate Program at Johns Hopkins University, where he taught courses in domestic and international climate change law and domestic energy law. He holds a PhD in International Environmental Law from the University of Wales-Cardiff School of Law. He also serves as the Co-Chair of the International Environmental Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association and is the President of the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences. He is also the former Co-Chair of the International Environmental Law interest group of the American Society of International Law. He has taught at Williams College, Colby College, Santa Clara University School of Law and the Monterey Institute of International Studies of Middlebury College. Prior to becoming an academic, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs for the State of Wisconsin and worked in the non-governmental sector for twenty years, including as Executive Director of the Pacific Center for International Studies, a think-tank that focused on implementation of international wildlife treaty regimes, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. He has published over 75 articles in law, science, and policy journals and has co-edited four books. His current areas of research focus are: climate geoengineering; international climate change litigation; adaptation strategies to address climate change, with a focus on the potential role of microinsurance; the effectiveness of international treaty regimes to conserve cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises); and how to effectively operationalize the precautionary principle in international environmental treaty regimes. His edited volume, Climate Change Geoengineering: Philosophical Perspectives, Legal Issues, and Governance Frameworks, is available from Cambridge University Press.

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