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Professor Neil Hamilton, students participate in international forum

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Neil Hamilton
Drake Law Professor Neil Hamilton is blogging during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, about topics such as the link between climate change and food security.

The topic was addressed during a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who also served as a visiting professor at Drake Law School.

Vilsack’s talk was part of the Agriculture and Rural Development Day at the University of Copenhagen College of Life Sciences. The University hosted more than 350 national representatives, farmers, government officials and academics, including Hamilton and two Drake law students. 

Hamilton, director of the Agricultural Law Center, and two Drake law students are attending the conference through Dec. 19.

They are among a group of scholars and students from the United States who are experiencing the conference through meetings and roundtable discussions. Topics include: “the triple challenge to agriculture of increasing food productivity, climate resilience and greenhouse gas mitigation — and on unlocking the potential of emission markets for small farmers,” Hamilton wrote in his blog,

Agriculture takes the stage at the COP 15 talks.

He also outlined his hope for the climate change talks in a guest column in the Register. The article is titled, “American farmers must step up on climate change.” 

His interest lies in “what the talks may mean for farmers in the United States and abroad. U.S. policy discussions show much of America’s agricultural sector doesn’t take climate change seriously.”

He also was featured in the Cattle Network‘s e-interview, “Five Minutes With Dr. Neil Hamilton & Global Warming.”

Hamilton is joined in Copenhagen by second-year law students Keith Duffy and Amanda Atherton.

“I’m really honored and excited to be chosen to attend the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference,” said Atherton of Fenton, Mich. “I’ve done some work on sustainable agriculture issues, particularly with farm leases, and other environmental issues.” 

“I’ll be focusing on how nonprofit land trusts like the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation can contribute to a solution to the climate change crisis. I’ll also be looking at what kind of legal instruments and mechanisms can be used to impact this change.” 

The students will learn what is being done around the world to bring positive changes for the climate and environment. 

The goal of the conference is to bring nations together to discuss ways to reduce carbon emissions, deal with climate change and develop a Copenhagen Protocol that will replace the Kyoto Protocol that will expire in 2012.

Drake is one of two Iowa universities to be represented at the conference. The Iowa group, which includes a delegation of 10 Drake and University of Iowa students and several faculty members, was given clearance to attend all meetings during the conference.

Drake students will develop proposals for public programs based on their observations of the climate-change discussions. They will also be encouraged to engage with their communities and present possible solutions to climate change.

In addition, students will present summaries of their programs at an event following the conference. The event will include a keynote address by Jerald L. Schnoor, professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director of the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.