Sarah E. Light
Professor Light’s research examines issues at the intersection of environmental law and business innovation. Her articles have addressed the regulatory implications of the rise of transportation platforms like Uber and Lyft; how business innovation, such as Microsoft’s adoption of a private carbon fee, can be a form of private environmental governance; and the U.S. military’s role in stimulating private technological innovation to reduce fossil fuel use in what Light has called The Military-Environmental Complex. Her articles have appeared in and are forthcoming in the Duke Law Journal, the UCLA Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, the Emory Law Journal and the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, among others.
In 2017, Professor Light was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award in the MBA Program at Wharton. In 2016, Professor Light was one of ten faculty nominated by the MBA student body for the Helen Kardon Moss Anvil Award for Outstanding MBA Teaching.
- environmental law and policy
- private environmental governance
- legislation and statutory interpretation
- the regulatory state
This Brief focuses on ways in which private firms are adopting tools that mirror public law instruments—such as internal carbon fees (similar to a public carbon tax) and private cap-and-trade schemes (like public emissions trading schemes)—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. These private case studies suggest that significant progress in reducing emissions can come from embedding emissions reduction programs into core business strategy. Moreover, these case studies indicate that climate change, as a global issue, requires public regulators to recognize the potential contributions of global multinational firms.
Although the military’s operations are largely exempt from environmental laws and regulations when those laws conflict with its national security mission, the military has important incentives to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and combat climate change. If nurtured properly, the military’s extensive undertaking to improve its sustainable energy use and reduce demand for fossil-fuel-derived energy has the potential to become one important tool in the environmental regulatory toolkit.
"B-School for Public Policy" Seminars
June 15Policy Disruption: Regulatory Responses to Business and Technological Innovation
Other Policy Related Activities
United States’s Attorney’s, Southern District of New York
Chief, Environmental Protection Unit, Civil Division 2007-2011
Assistant United States Attorney, Civil Division 2001-2011
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Law Clerk to the Honorable John M. Walker, Jr. 2000-2001
Peer Review: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability, American Business Law Journal, Ethics & International Affairs, Journal of Business Ethics, International Journal, Regulation & Governance
Pro Bono Mediator, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (2011-13), New York Peace Institute, Brooklyn Civil Court (2012-13)
Recent News Stories
In this interview on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111, Professor Sarah Light talks about how mainstream businesses are advancing sustainability, where her research suggests we’re headed, and what the best tactics look to be for bringing private enterprise and national governments together to stave off a climate crisis.