Michael P. Vandenbergh

David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law
Co-director, Energy, Environment and Land Use Program
Director, Climate Change Research Network

Mike Vandenbergh is a leading scholar in environmental and energy law whose research explores the relationship between formal legal regulation and informal social regulation of individual and corporate behavior. His work with Vanderbilt’s Climate Change Research Network involves interdisciplinary teams that focus on the reduction of carbon emissions from the individual and household sector. His corporate work explores the influence of social norms on firm behavior and the ways in which private contracting can enhance or undermine public governance. Before joining Vanderbilt’s law faculty, Professor Vandenbergh was a partner at a national law firm in Washington, D.C. He served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1993-95. He began his career as a law clerk to Judge Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1987-88. In addition to directing Vanderbilt’s Climate Change Research Network, Professor Vandenbergh serves as co-director of the law school’s Energy, Environment and Land Use Program. He was named to the David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law in fall 2013. A recipient of the Hall-Hartman Teaching Award, he teaches courses in environmental law, energy, and property. Professor Vandenbergh has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago Law School and at Harvard Law School.

Research Interests

Environmental law and policy, social and behavioral sciences, private governance, climate change, energy law and policy, presidential control of agency decision making


Representative Publications

  • "Private Environmental Governance," 99 Cornell Law Review (forthcoming 2013)
  • "Accounting for Political Opportunity Costs in Climate Instrument Choice," 32 Virginia Environmental Law Journal (forthcoming 2013)
  • "An Empirical Assessment of Corporate Environmental Crime Control Strategies," 103 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 231 (2013) (with Sally S. Simpson, Carole Gibbs, Lee Slocum, Melissa Rorie and Mark Cohen)
  • "The One Percent Problem," 111 Columbia Law Review 1385 (2011) (with Kevin Stack)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Time to Try Carbon Labelling," 1 Nature Climate Change 4-6 (2011) (with Tom Dietz and Paul C. Stern)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Household Actions Can Provide a Behavioral Wedge to Rapidly Reduce U.S. Carbon Emissions," 106 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 18452 (2009) (with Tom Dietz, Gerald Gardner, Paul Stern and Jonathan Gilligan)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Individual Carbon Emissions: The Low-Hanging Fruit," 55 UCLA Law Review 1701 (2008)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Climate Change: The China Problem," 81 Southern California Law Review 905 (2008)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "The Carbon-Neutral Individual," 82 New York University Law Review 1673 (2007) (with Anne Steinemann)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "The New Wal-Mart Effect: The Role of Private Contracting in Global Governance," 54 UCLA Law Review 913 (2007)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN