Michael P. Vandenbergh

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

Michael 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 private environmental governance and 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 to 1995. He began his career as a law clerk for Judge Edward R. Becker of the U.S. 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 a David Daniels Allen Distinguished Professor 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.

Buying Time: The Private Governance Response to Climate Change, a TEDx talk by Michael Vandenbergh

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

  • "Energy and Climate Change: A Climate Prediction Market," 61 UCLA Law Review (2014) (with Kaitlin T. Raimi and Jonathan M. Gilligan)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Private Environmental Governance," 99 Cornell Law Review 129 (2013). Selected for inclusion in the 2015 Land Use and Environment Review, an annual compendium of peer-selected leading law review articles in land use and environmental law.
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "The One Percent Problem," 111 Columbia Law Review 1385 (2011) (with Kevin Stack). Selected for inclusion in the 2013 Land Use and Environmental Law Review.
    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
  • "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). Selected for inclusion in the 2009 Land Use and Environmental Law Review.
    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
  • "Inside the Administrative State: A Critical Look at the Practice of Presidential Control," 105 Michigan Law Review 47 (2006) (with Lisa Bressman)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "The Private Life of Public Law," 105 Columbia Law Review 2029 (2005)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN

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Contact Information

(615) 322-6763 (voice)
(615) 322-6631 (fax)
Room 283 (office)

Curriculum Vitae



J.D. University of Virginia
B.A. University of North Carolina