Dr. Wil Burns is the founding Co-Executive Director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, a scholarly initiative of the School of International Service at American University. he is based in its western office in Berkeley, California. He also serves as a Senior Research Fellow for the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), and as a Research Fellow for the Center for Science, Technology and Medicine in Society (CSTMS) at the University of California-Berkeley. He previously served as the Director of the Energy Policy & Climate program at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. He also serves as the Co-Chair of the International Environmental Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association.

He is the former President of the Association for Environmental Studies & Sciences, and former Co-Chair of the International Environmental Law interest group of the American Society of International Law and Chair of the International Wildlife Law Interest group of the Society. He has published over 80 articles and chapters in law, science, and policy journals and books, and has co-edited four books. He also served as founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy and Case Studies in the Environment. He holds a Ph.D. in International Environmental Law from the University of Wales-Cardiff School of Law.

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. 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; and the effectiveness of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.


  • The European Union’s Emissions Trading System: Climate Policymaking Model, or Muddle?, Part 2, 31 Tulane Environmental Law Journal (2017)
  • Geoengineering the Oceans: An Emerging Frontier in International Climate Change Governance, 15 Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs (2017) (lead author: Jeffrey McGee)
  • Bioenergy and Carbon Capture with Storage (BECCS): The Prospects and Challenges of an Emerging Climate Policy Response, Journal of Environmental Studies & Sciences (2017) (co-author: Simon Nicholson)
  • The Asia-Pacific’s role in the emerging solar geoengineering debate, Climatic Change (2017) (lead author: Masahiro Sugiyama)
  • The Case for Case Studies in Confronting Environmental Issues, 1 Case Studies in the Environment (2017)
  • The European Union’s Emissions Trading System: Climate Policymaking Model, or Muddle?, Part 1, 31 Tulane Environmental Law Journal (2017)
  • The Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, American Bar Association, International Law Section, SEER Year in Review for Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Ecosystems (2017)
  • Loss and Damage and the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 22(2) ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law (2016)
  • Human Rights Dimensions of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage: A Framework for Climate Justice in the Realm of Climate Geoengineering, CLIMATE JUSTICE: CASE STUDIES IN GLOBAL AND REGIONAL CHALLENGES (Abate, ed., Environmental Law Institute Press, 2016)
  • Climate Geoengineering: Promise or Peril on a New Earth?, NEW EARTH POLITICS (Nicholson & Jinnah, eds. , MIT Press, 2016) (co-author: Simon Nicholson)
  • A Response to Reynolds, et. al., Five Solar Geoengineering Tropes that have Outstayed their Welcome, FCEA Comments Paper (November 2016)
  • Climate Engineering under the Paris Agreement: A Legal & Policy Primer, Centre for International Governance Innovation, Special Report, Nov. 1, 2016 (co-author: A. Neil Craik)
  • The Paris Agreement and Climate Geoengineering Governance: The Need for a Human Rights-Based Component, Centre for International Governance Innovation Papers, No. 111 (October, 2016)
  • Climate Geoengineering and the Role of Public Deliberation: A Comment on the US National Academy of Sciences’ Recommendations on Public Participation, 5(2-4) Climate Law (2015) (co-author: Jane Flegal)
  • (Co-author with other committee members), Legal Principles Related to Climate Change, Report of the International Law Association, Climate Change Law Committee (2014)
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