Durwood Zaelke is an Advisory Board Member of Methane Action, and the founder and President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) in Washington, DC and Paris, focusing on fast mitigation strategies that avoid maximum warming over the critical next decade in order to slow climate feedbacks and avoid irreversible tipping points. IGSD’s strategies include reducing short-lived super climate pollutants (methane, tropospheric ozone, HFCs, and black carbon), starting with reductions of methane emissions, which can avoid nearly 0.3C of warming by 2045, and strengthening the Montreal Protocol, starting with the Kigali Amendment to phase down HFCs and parallel efforts to improve energy efficiency of cooling equipment.
Prior to IGSD, Zaelke co-founded and served as President of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) in Washington, DC and Geneva (1989-2003); founder and Director of the International & Comparative Environmental Law Program at the Washington College of Law, American University (1990-2004); founder and Director of the International Program at EarthJustice (formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) (1988-89), and Director of their Alaska and DC offices (1980-89); and Director of the International Network for Environmental Compliance & Enforcement (2001-2015).
Zaelke is an adjunct professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, where he co-founded the Program on Governance for Sustainable Development. He has also taught at Yale, Duke, and Johns Hopkins. He is the author of International Environmental Law & Policy (with Hunter & Salzman) (6th ed. 2021). In 2017 he received the United Nations Ozone Political Leadership Award, together with their Scientific Leadership Award for helping achieve the Kigali Amendment. In 2008 he received the EPA Climate Protection Award and their Ozone Protection Award for strengthening climate protection under the Montreal Protocol.
Zaelke received both a Policy and Implementation Leadership Award and a Scientific Leadership Award in 2017 from the Montreal Protocol Secretariat at the 30th Anniversary Meeting of the Parties for his efforts to enact the Kigali Amendment to phase down HFCs for climate protection, and both an Ozone Protection Award and a Climate Protection Award in 2008 from the US EPA for his contributions to the successful effort to maximize the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol by accelerating the phaseout of HCFCs.
Zaelke is a graduate of Duke Law School (1972) and UCLA (1969), and a member of the bar in California, Washington, DC, and Alaska.