Climate Change

Recent News:

Environmental Lawyer Serves Clients at the Intersection

Peter Fontaine, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Environmental Practice, was interviewed by Of Counsel to discuss the practice, his career, most significant cases, and his likes and dislikes about the legal profession.

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Preventing a disastrous global temperature shift without sacrificing standards of living is a vital issue for governments, businesses, and people. The lawyers in Cozen O’Connor’s climate change practice leverage their experience in clean air regulation, insurance risk, and complex environmental and commercial litigation to help clients deal with a multitude of climate change issues and to both prepare and protect their businesses in the emerging paradigm of a carbon-constrained world. 

Our lawyers help clients manage their risks and pursue new opportunities in the face of a changing climate. Wind and solar power developers depend on us to help them advance their projects from permitting through financing and construction. Technology companies seek our help to protect and position their carbon dioxide (CO2) mitigation technology. Insurers depend on us for sound advice on climate risk underwriting, disclosures and claims handling. Climate scientists retain us to defend their reputations.

Litigation

Climate-related litigation often involves the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and state versions of this statute, and public nuisance tort claims. The lines between these categories sometimes blur as different jurisdictions and governmental authorities grapple with the issues raised by climate change, as well as the basic questions of who has the authority and the responsibility to deal with it.

As the effects of climate change intensify as predicted, a variety of lawsuits and theories of liability will arise, including professional liability claims against engineers, architects, and consultants for errors and omissions in accounting for climate change. Directors and officers also face liability for financial harm caused by breaches of care or failure to disclose substantial risks. And finally, if greenhouse gas legislation is enacted, lawsuits most certainly will arise out of commercial and regulatory enforcement actions. Cozen O’Connor’s commercial and environmental litigation experience enables us to effectively represent clients involved in such matters.

Risk & Insurance

The legal and physical impacts of climate change are having a profound impact on the insurance sector, and our extensive experience in the insurance industry enables us to represent insurers and defend insureds in all forms of climate change litigation, from public nuisance suits to regulatory actions. We provide educational and consulting services to our clients on climate change issues, focusing upon three key realities:

  • The insurance industry has been among the first to experience the effects of climate change, and will undoubtedly be among the industries that are most impacted.
  • The insurance industry, as a result of its financial position and superior expertise in risk analysis, is in a unique position to provide positive, international influence.
  • In the coming years, insurers who are able to accurately project the likely effects of climate change will be at a significant competitive advantage.

Renewables

We represent renewable project developers — including several of the largest offshore and terrestrial wind power development projects, solar projects, and natural gas projects — that seek to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. We offer a wide variety of services to clients in or those looking to engage with the renewable sector. We can assist with issues surrounding corporate securities, project finance, due diligence, land use planning and permitting for renewable projects, and establishing joint ventures.

Technology

Climate mitigation technology is a key driver in the climate change market. These technologies include enzymes for biofuel production, clean coal and carbon sequestration, hydrogen fuel cells, biofuels, green buildings and materials, renewable electricity generation, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and advanced electric metering infrastructure. Cozen O’Connor represents a number of technology companies, helping them position their businesses and protect their technologies in this new marketplace. Our clients develop and distribute cutting-edge products, and we provide cutting-edge counsel by combining in-depth knowledge of their industries with keen legal and regulatory acumen.

Our Team

Our Climate Change group combines the experience of a wide variety of practice areas and includes four former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attorneys. Our attorneys are often called upon to lecture on climate change topics for national symposia, including a Think Tank for Property and Casualty Insurers. Not only do we talk the talk – we also walk the walk. Cozen O’Connor is among only four Vault 100 law firms that earned an A grade in the 2020 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard prepared by the Law Students for Climate Accountability and was ranked the Best Firm for Litigation Mitigating Climate Change.

 

Publications

Climate Change – Real Estate Impact [White Paper]

March 22, 2021

Matthew Weinstein and Harrison Haas discuss how climate change impacts the real estate industry and the ways property owners, developers, governmental authorities, and others intend to tackle the perceived effect of climate change.

A Consequential Ruling: Florida Supreme Court Rejects Recovery of Consequential Damages in First-Party Breach of Contract Actions [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

January 22, 2021

In first-party breach of insurance contract actions, the parties oftentimes dispute whether the policyholder may seek damages that are not explicitly provided for in the policy, with the policyholder arguing such indirect damages flow from the alleged breach of contract. By doing so, policyholders...

Florida Property Losses – Five Things to Know for Hurricane Matthew

October 07, 2016

Hurricane Matthew is the first major hurricane to strike Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. As the insurance industry prepares for Florida property loss claims due to Hurricane Matthew, we highlight five claims-handling points based on the primary Florida statutory and administrative code provisions most relevant to property insurers with respect to first-party property loss claims, as well as on Florida’s statutory framework for a first-party bad faith claim.

Rebuttal: AG's Pursuit of Oil Giants Is Legally Sound [The National Law Journal]

January 25, 2016

Two Cozen O'Connor attorneys discuss New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's investigation of energy companies.

Historic U.S.-China Agreement to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

November 12, 2014

In a surprise announcement last evening from Beijing, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping committed to ambitious cuts in carbon emissions over the next 15 years with the hope of preventing catastrophic global warming. The joint announcement calls for the United States, by 2025, to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels and for China to reduce net carbon emissions starting in 2030 or earlier and to increase the overall share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030.

White House Initiative to Tackle Methane Emissions: New Regulations, Funding Opportunities Expected [Utility, Environmental & Energy Alert]

March 31, 2014

On March 28, the White House announced a set of new policy initiatives to reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The Climate Action Plan—Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions (Methane Plan) outlines the administration’s plans for new regulations, voluntary efforts and measurement technology to reduce and track methane emissions.

EPA Issues Final Emissions Standards for Oil & Natural Gas Sector [Energy, Environmental and Utilities Alert]

May 04, 2012

EPA Issues Final Emissions Standards for Oil & Natural Gas Sector - Energy, Environmental and Utilities Alert - On April 17, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized performance and emissions standards for emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells and
other source categories in the oil and natural gas sector. Specifically, the rule revises New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) under 40 C.F.R. part 60, subparts KKK, LLL and new OOOO as well as National Emissions Standards for hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) under 40 C.F.R. part
63, subparts HH and HHH.

In The News

Environmental Lawyer Serves Clients at the Intersection

January 01, 2021

Peter Fontaine, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Environmental Practice, was interviewed by Of Counsel to discuss the practice, his career, most significant cases, and his likes and dislikes about the legal profession.

Cozen O’Connor Gets “A” Grade on the 2020 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard

October 06, 2020

To receive an A grade, Cozen O’Connor met the criteria for an A grade in either litigation, transactions, or lobbying and has no lobbying nor transactional work on behalf of the fossil fuel industry and no cases exacerbating climate change.

Climate Scientist Defamation Ruling Could Affect Climate Debate

December 23, 2016

Peter Fontaine discusses Dr. Michael Mann’s libel claims against the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Scientists Prepare for ‘Nightmare Scenario’ Under Trump

December 15, 2016

Peter Fontaine discusses representing Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University climate scientist, in ClimateWire.

Contacts

Peter J. Fontaine

Chair, Environmental

pfontaine@cozen.com

(215) 665-2723

John David Dickenson

Member

jdickenson@cozen.com

(561) 515-5260

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