Call for papers 5th Law and Economics Conference, University of Lucerne, 15-16 April 2016

Environmental Law and Economics

In 'The Problem of Social Cost', the Nobel laureate Ronald Coase offered a paradigmatic shift in how externalities could be viewed and addressed. In a world with defined property rights and no transaction costs, parties will bargain and the most valuable activity will prevail. The role of law, it followed, was to clearly define property rights and reduce transaction costs.

However, such environmental externalities in Coase’s era were more often viewed as localized problems: pollution from a factory contaminated a town’s drinking water or smoke from a chimney polluted a town’s air. Today’s most salient environmental problems are global in scale. Interrelated problems of anthropogenic climate change, exploitation of resources (especially energy resources), species extinction, pollution of waterways and acidification of oceans all threaten irreversible harm to future generations.

Understanding this, the UN and other international organizations have held various conferences, such as the Rio World Summits, and released numerous reports, attempting to spur change in domestic and international policy. Even the Pope, with his recent encyclical, Laudatio Si, has waded into the fray, arguing that it is a moral imperative for governments and people generally to work towards preserving the environment and ecosystems for future generations.

Yet, critical questions remain to which scholars from all over the world have much to contribute. To what extent is it justifiable to rely on markets and continued technological innovation, especially as it relates to present exploitation of scarce resources? Or is it necessary for the state to intervene? Regulatory instruments are available to create and maintain a more sustainable society: command and control regulations, restraints, Pigovian taxes, emission certificates, nudging policies, etc. If regulation in a certain legal field is necessary, which policies and methods will most effectively spur sustainable consumption and production in order to protect the environment while mitigating any potential negative impact on economic development? The aim of this conference is to join together researchers from multiple disciplines such as law, economics and philosophy to discuss, and hopefully answer, these vital questions.


  • 1 September 2015 submission of proposals

  • 15 September 2015 selection of proposals

  • 1 March 2016 submission of draft papers

  • 15-16 April 2016 presentation of papers at the conference

  • 15 May 2016 submission of definite papers

  • Fall 2016 publication of volume

The contributions will be published in the academic book series 'Economic Analysis of Law in European Legal Scholarship' (

Speakers’ Expenses

Speakers’ expenses for accommodation and travel to and from the conference will be covered within reason (economy class).

Submission of Proposals

If you would like to submit a paper for this conference you are kindly requested to send a brief description of your topic (1-2 pages) and a short CV no later than 1 September 2015 to Prof. Dr. Klaus Mathis (

Faculty of Law

Prof. Dr. iur. Klaus Mathis, MA in Economics

Chair for Public Law and Law of the Sustainable Economy