Michael Burger

Senior Research Scholar; Lecturer in Law, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School


BIOGRAPHY: As Executive Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Michael leads a dynamic team that is at the forefront of domestic and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate change adaptation through pollution control, resource management, land use planning and green finance. Past and present projects involve collaborations with local and national environmental groups and government representatives, as well as international organizations such as the United Nations Environment Program, the United Nations Development Program, and the International Red Cross. Michael is a widely published scholar, a frequent speaker at conferences and symposiums, and a regular source for media outlets. He has taught at Columbia Law School, NYU Law School and Roger Williams School of Law, and has lead short courses on climate change and human rights in the Hague and Grand Cayman. He is also a co-founder and member of the Environmental Law Collaborative. Michael is Of Counsel at Sher Edling LLP, a boutique plaintiffs firm that represents states, cities, public agencies, and businesses in high-impact, high-value environmental cases.

Prior to joining the Sabin Center Michael was an associate professor at Roger Williams University School of Law, where he taught environmental law, administrative law, and law and literature, and was founder and director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Clinical Externship program. He previously taught in the Lawyering Program at New York University School of Law, and served as an attorney in the Environmental Law Division of New York City’s Office of the Corporation Counsel. Michael is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and an articles editor for the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law; and of Brown University, where he graduated magna cum laude and received the Ratcliffe Hicks Prize for highest standing in language and literature. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Creative Writing program at NYU.


Only select publications listed below
Name Published Date
Transferred Emissions Are Still Emissions: Why Fossil Fuel Asset Sales Need Enhanced Transparency and Carbon Accounting 2023
The Law and Science of Climate Change Attribution 2020
Holding Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable for their Contribution to Climate Change: Where Does the Law Stand? 2018
Materials Consumption and Solid Waste 2018
Downstream and Upstream Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Proper Scope of NEPA Review 2017
The Status of Climate Change Litigation: A Global Review 2017
Climate Engineering Research Governance 2016
Climate Change and Human Rights 2015
Designing a Climate Change Displacement Coordination Facility: Key Issues for COP-21 2015
Narratives in Conflicts: Alaska Natives and Offshore Drilling in the Arctic 2014
Environmental Law/Environmental Literature 2013
Fracking and Federalism Choice 2013
Recovering from the Recovery Narrative: On Glocalism, Green Jobs and Cyborg Civilization 2013
The (Re)Federalization of Fracking Regulation 2013
Teaching Intrapersonal Intelligence as a Lawyering Skill: Introducing Values Systems into the Environmental Law Syllabus 2011
"It's Not Easy Being Green": Local Initiatives, Preemption Problems, and the Market Participant Exception 2010
Bi-Polar and Polycentric Approaches to Human Rights and the Environment 2003
Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred Meet. Edited, and with Introductions by Ellen Bernstein. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998. Pp. 277. $23.95. 1999



GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AND U.S. LAW, 3RD ED. (Michael B. Gerrard, Jody Freeman, Michael Burger, eds., American Bar Association) (forthcoming 2022).

COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE WITH SECTION 115 OF THE CLEAN AIR ACT: LAW AND POLICY RATIONALES (Michael Burger, ed., Edward Elgar Publishing (forthcoming 2020).

CLIMATE CHANGE, PUBLIC HEALTH AND THE LAW (Michael Burger and Justin Gundlach, eds., Cambridge University Press) (2018).


“Corporate Social Responsibility and Climate Change,” co-authored with Jessica Wentz, CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: THE CORPORATE GOVERNANCE OF THE 21ST CENTURY, 3RD ED. (Roger Martella and Rae Lindsay, eds.) (forthcoming 2020).  

“Materials Consumption and Solid Waste: Legal Developments for a Circular Economy,” LEGAL PATHWAYS TO DEEP DECARBONIZATION (Michael B. Gerrard and John C. Dernbach, eds., Environmental Law Institute (ELI) Press) (2019). 
“Climate Change and Human Rights,” co-authored with Jessica Wentz, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT (James R. May and Erin Ryan, eds.) (2019) 

“Research Governance,” co-authored with Justin Gundlach, CLIMATE ENGINEERING AND THE LAW: REGULATION AND LIABILITY FOR SOLAR RADIATION MANAGEMENT AND CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL (Michael B. Gerrard and Tracy Hester, eds., Cambridge University Press) (2017). 

“Sustainable Utopias and Climate Change Apocalypse,” RETHINKING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TO MEET THE CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGE,” (Keith Hirokawa and Jessica Owley, eds., Environmental Law Institute (ELI) Press) (2015).

“The Last, Last Frontier,” ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND CONTRASTING IDEAS OF NATURE: A CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH (Keith Hirokawa, ed., Cambridge University Press) (2014).