USD School of Law professor discusses duties at Climate Change Conference

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Elizabeth Burleson, professor at The University of South Dakota School of Law, is attending the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark this week.

Burleson, a member of the USD School of Law faculty since 2007, is no stranger to United Nations policies having participated in treaty negotiations at the U.N. in 1991 during proceedings for the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development. She also attended the Bali Climate Conference two years ago on behalf of UNICEF. While attending COP15, Burleson has assisted the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) with their booth and distributing side event materials. She also helped the National Wildlife Federation conduct a side event on Amazonian Forestry issues, coordinating participation by a Brazilian governor.

“As a USD law professor teaching and researching climate, water, energy and good governance, I brainstormed with graduate students that approached the UNEP booth interested in pursuing careers that encompassed climate,” she said from Copenhagen. “Many country delegates stopped by for UNEP materials and to debrief after the Monday interruption of proceedings. I spoke with at least 10 African country delegations regarding their hopes for renewed consensus building.”

In addition to assisting organizations like UNEP and the National Wildlife Federation with events and activities, Burleson has participated in several meetings during the course of the conference, which concludes Friday. The consensus, she believes, is that people throughout the world want governments to heed their calls for help and eliminate processes contributing to climate change.

“I remain optimistic that light will shine through these short days in Copenhagen,” added Burleson, “and together the international community will find peaceful middle ground that effectively responds to our collective climate changes challenge.”

A photo of Elizabeth Burleson is available for download at www.usd.edu/urelations/images/Prof_Burleson.jpg.